Yellowfin Tuna Recall Leads To FDA Hepatitis A Infection Warning

Federal health regulators are calling for anyone who ate yellowfin tuna recalled in four states to get a prophylactic shot as soon as possible, to prevent the onset of hepatitis A if they are unvaccinated. 

The FDA issued a warning on June 6, regarding a recent yellowfin tuna recall for frozen steaks and cubes from the Hilo Fish Company, which received the fish from the Sustainable Seafood Company in Vietnam and Santa Cruz Seafood, Inc. in the Phillippines. The agency is calling on those who may have eaten the contaminated fish to get a post-exposure shot, and releasing a list of businesses that likely received the contaminated tuna.

On May 1, the FDA was contacted by the Hawaii Department of Health about a tuna sample that was contaminated with hepatitis A. That resulted in a recall of tuna supplied by PT Deho Canning, Co. However, even after that fish was removed from circulation, more contaminated fish is believed to have made its way to the U.S. mainland through Hilo, which issued its own recall to its customers on May 18.

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The Hilo Fish Company recall included 8 oz. tuna steaks in individually vacuum packed bags, with production date code 627152, lot number 166623 and an expiration date of 2018-10-01; and Frozen Yellowfin tuna cubes, individually vacuum packed in 15 lb. cases, with date code 705342, lot number 173448, and an expiration date of 2019-04-01.

However, the FDA has issued this additional warning, as well as the list of businesses where it was sold, in order to prevent an outbreak among those who may have already eaten the contaminated fish. The agency is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state agencies in California, New York, Oklahoma and Texas to prevent the liver virus from spreading.

To date, there have been no illnesses reported.

“CDC recommends providing post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for unvaccinated people who have eaten any of the recalled raw or undercooked tuna products in the last two weeks,” the FDA warns. “People who have consumed this fish fully cooked are at reduced risk of exposure, but we encourage consultation with medical professionals.”

Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that attacks the liver, causing mild to severe illness. Part of the concern is that, unlike some other cases of food poisoning, Hepatitis A can easily be passed from an infected person to family members, sexual partners and close contacts who are not vaccinated.

Symptoms of hepatitis A can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Abnormal liver tests
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stool

Symptoms may not appear until 15 to 50 days after exposure.

The CDC recommends all children be vaccinated for hepatitis A, but notes that vaccination rates for the virus are lower than for other childhood vaccines.

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