Consumers have been told not to eat “Dried Vobla Fish (Astrakhanskaya)” because the product was found to be uneviscerated, placing it at risk of contamination by botulism spores.

Vobla is a Russian word for a fish that is a popular salt-cured snack.  It was sold by Ocean Side Pharmacy Inc. in Brooklyn, NY to consumers in the New York City Metro area and two wholesalers in California and Massachusetts. The fish was sold as an unpackaged, uncoded, bulk item at ambient temperature.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets prohibits the sale of uneviscerated processed fish because Clostridium botulinum spores are more likely to be concentrated in the viscera.  Uneviscerated fish has been linked to outbreaks of botulism poisoning.

 Food inspectors found the fish during a routine inspection of the firm.  Subsequent analysis by a state laboratory confirmed the product to be uneviscerated.

Botulism is a serious and potentially fatal foodborne illness. Symptoms of botulism include blurred or double vision, general weakness, poor reflexes, difficulty swallowing and respiratory paralysis.

To date, there have been no illnesses reported in connection with the dried fish.