The United States has “red listed” some frozen tuna from a Vietnamese producer because of its link to an ongoing Salmonella Newport outbreak. The tuna, imported by Louisiana-based Jensen Tuna will be detained at U.S. borders.

Public health officials had not yet updated outbreak information related to the frozen, ground tuna as of the posting of the Import Alert. A notice posted this afternoon by the Food and Drug Administration warned restaurants and other foodservice operations, such as grocery store deli counters, to check their freezers and ask their suppliers if they had received any tuna from JK Fish of Vietnam.

The FDA urges restaurants and any other businesses or consumers who received any of the implicated tuna to clean and sanitize any storage areas, containers, utensils and food preparation areas that came into contact with the tuna. 

As of April 16, a total of 13 patients across seven states had been confirmed with infections, according to the most recent update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent patient added to the CDC’s log became sick on March 20. No deaths have been confirmed. Two of the patients had to be admitted to hospitals.

The frozen tuna from JK Fish that is subject to the Import Alert includes “Albacore, Yellowfin, Bluefin, Skipjack, etc.” according to the FDA notice.

“It is unlikely that the recalled ground tuna was sold directly to consumers in grocery stores; rather, it was likely used in food dishes sold by restaurants or retailers,” the FDA notice says. 

“Consumers with concerns should ask their restaurants and retailers whether the tuna dish they are purchasing contains the recalled ground tuna.”

The FDA reported that there could be incomplete distribution information on the tuna. It is known that the company distributed the implicated tuna to Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, New York and Wasington state. “… but product could have been distributed further, reaching additional states.”

On April 15, officials from the FDA, CDC and several states communicated with the owners of Jensen Tuna. After that communication, the Louisiana company recalled frozen ground tuna. The recalled tuna was individually packaged in one-pound bags and sold in 20-pound boxes under lot numbers z266, z271, and z272.

Jensen Tuna distributed the product to wholesalers from Nov. 30, 2018, through March 15, 2019. The recall notice did not include any information on date codes for sale or use.

Information about Salmonella infections
Food that is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria usually does not look, smell or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled tuna or products containing it and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized. 

Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

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