Investigators have an open case file on an outbreak of scombroid poisoning among patrons of a restaurant in an upscale hotel in downtown Seattle.

Three people became ill after eating cooked tuna at the All Water Seafood & Oyster Bar in the Loews Hotel, according to a notice from Seattle-King County Public Health. 

“There are no laboratory tests to diagnose scombroid in people. Testing can be done on food, however samples of the tuna were not available. Symptoms experienced by the ill people are suggestive of scombroid,” according to the health department’s statement.

All three of the sick people were in the same dining party that ate at the restaurant on Nov. 4. None of them were admitted to a hospital.

Public health investigators checked the restaurant on Nov. 6 and did not find any food safety issues related to the preparation or refrigeration of tuna, according to the department’s notice. The restaurant operators discarded all prepared tuna on hand at that time. Public health records show an “excellent” rating for prior and current inspections. 

No tuna from the same batch as the sick people ate was available for testing.

The local health department is working with federal officials to ensure public safety.

“We reported this outbreak to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the source of the tuna to make sure appropriate storage and handling of tuna is happening before distribution to restaurants and other food establishments,” according to the health department’s notice.

Scombroid poisoning is caused by eating certain fish that have not been kept properly refrigerated at temperatures below 41 degrees F at any time after capture. Fish typically associated with scombroid include tuna, mackerel, mahi mahi, sardines, anchovies, herring, bluefish, amberjack, and marlin.

Symptoms include flushing of the face resembling a sunburn, headache, heart palpitations, itching, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and in severe cases low blood pressure. Symptoms usually begin within a few minutes to an hour after eating the fish and last 12 to 48 hours.

Seattle-King County’s Public Health is one of the largest metropolitan health departments in the United States. With 1,400 employees, 40 sites, and a biennial budget of $686 million, Public Health serves a resident population of 2.2 million people. Over 100 languages are spoken in the area, which also welcomes 40 million visitors annually

Editor’s note originally posted Nov. 3: At this time, the credibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not to be trusted. Both agencies have shown a reckless disregard for the public’s right to know, and their reliability going forward remains suspect. For the next six weeks, Food Safety News will publish this note above on every story involving the FDA or CDC..

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