The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is alerting consumers in the Brooklyn Park metro area to avoid eating dried uneviscerated fish after city and state officials discovered such products were being sold at three grocery stores there. Officials reported finding the products at:
- African International Market, Brooklyn Park;
- Valu Foods African Market, Brooklyn Park; and
- Fountains African Food Market, Crystal, Minn.
The uneviscerated fish included pike and bony fish varieties. Inspection and laboratory analysis of the products showed that the internal organs (viscera) had not been removed. There were no confirmed reports of illness associated with the fish products as of Jan. 13. The state officials issued the Jan. 13 advisory because eating salted or smoked, or dried uneviscerated fish, or products that have not had complete removal of all internal organs, can result in potentially deadly botulism poisoning, a severe form of food poisoning. Fish that are salted, dried or smoked, are more than 5 inches long and are of the pike, kuta or bony fish varieties have a greater risk of not being properly eviscerated. The MDA is working to determine additional product sources and distribution channels. Consumers are advised to throw away any dried uneviscerated fish they may have purchased. The FDA recommends that any product that will be preserved by salting, drying, pickling or fermentation should be fully eviscerated prior to processing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of botulism poisoning include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to include paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk and respiratory muscles. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, but symptoms can occur as early as six hours or as late as 10 days after eating contaminated food. The CDC recommends that consumers who think they may have become ill after eating uneviscerated fish contact a doctor or other health care provider. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)