At least 12 people are sick in Italy with tuna being investigated as the source of their illnesses.

The foodborne outbreak is suspected to have been caused by thawed yellowfin tuna steaks with added water from Italy and raw material from Spain.

In recent days, nine people with symptoms such as such as nausea, vomiting and loss of consciousness or fainting were reported to the Tuscany local health unit (ASL) and admitted to two hospitals before later being discharged.

They all reported consumption of tuna in various forms at two different restaurants in Florence.

Officials have visited both restaurants to assess the hygienic conditions, conservation of the product and details on traceability. Samples of tuna were sent for chemical and bacteriological analyzes.

Officials also went to the distribution center in Florence that supplied the two restaurants and blocked goods related to the lot potentially involved.

Suspicion of nitrite use
Authorities in Florence have also noted a similar case in a person who consumed tuna in a restaurant in the town of Portoferraio. Local media in the city of Brindisi reported a family — both parents and two children aged 10 and 11 years old — fell sick after eating fish.

Two labels of recalled products

The Italian Ministry of Health (Ministro della Salute) has published a recall of six lots of thawed yellowfin tuna steaks with added water that were packed by Ittica Zu Pietro SRL.

The recall notice states that the presence of nitrites or nitrates were found by authorities in one batch. Use of nitrites as food additives in tuna to alter the color of fish products is not authorized in Europe.

Authorities urged people not to consume the affected products and return them to the point of sale or to health authorities.

Tuna was also distributed to Croatia, Poland, Romania and Slovenia, according to the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) portal.

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