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FDA blocks tuna from Vietnamese company for hepatitis A

The expansion Wednesday of an Import Alert means the automatic detention at the U.S. border of fresh and frozen raw tuna from a Vietnamese seafood company because of hepatitis A contamination.

Sustainable Seafood Co. Ltd. of Cam Lam, Vietnam, is the second Asian company to make the Import Alert list for fresh and frozen raw tuna because of hepatitis A contamination. Two weeks ago, on Dec. 1, the Food and Drug Administration added fresh and frozen tuna from Indonesia’s P.T. Deho Canning Co. to the same Import Alert.

The Import Alert for fresh and frozen raw seafood for hepatitis A concerns stems from FDA testing and follow-up screening dating back to May this year.

“Hepatitis A virus is excreted in feces of infected people and can produce clinical disease when susceptible individuals consume contaminated water or foods, ” the FDA Import Alert says.

Hepatitis A transmission is mostly through person-to-person contact through fecal contamination, but common-source epidemics from contaminated food and beverages also occur.

“Poor sanitation and crowding facilitate transmission. Contamination of foods by infected workers in food production facilities/processing plants and restaurants is common. No known non-human sources of the virus exist,” according to FDA.

The agency says the hepatitis A virus contamination of the seafood is a result of unsanitary conditions in the production or packing facilities, such as reduced worker hygiene, inadequate worker sanitation facilities, and contaminated water supplies.

Import Alerts signal the world about which products or companies are experiencing food safety problems. The term FDA uses when ordering an automatic detention is “Detention Without Physical Examination” or DWPE.

If an importer does not do anything about to resolve the issues, products subjected to automatic detention at U.S. borders and ports of entry will be sent back or destroyed. FDA can also ask customs officials to seize detained products.

For FDA to consider removing a firm and product from detention without physical examination status, the agency must have evidence establishing the conditions that gave rise to the apparent violation are resolved and that FDA can have confidence that future entries will comply with the U.S. law.

“Therefore, it is expected the firm and an agent thereof will submit information outlining the firm’s investigation into the cause of the violation as well as any follow-up steps are taken to prevent violations in future shipments,” says raw tuna alert says.

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