The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises consumers not to eat and restaurants and food retailers, not to sell, and to dispose of certain Red’s Best chopped clams.

The recalled clams were illegally harvested from prohibited waters in Massachusetts on Nov. 25 and Nov. 26 with lot numbers # 331 and # 333 and shuck dates of 23/331 and 23/333. The clams may be contaminated, and there is concern that some of them may have been frozen for later use.

The chopped clams were directly distributed to distributors and retailers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island and may have been distributed further from these states.

Clams harvested illegally may be contaminated with human pathogens, toxic elements, or poisonous or deleterious substances and can cause illness if consumed. Clams are filter feeders that remove and bioaccumulate bacteria and other pathogens from the water. It is not uncommon for shellfish to be consumed raw and whole. Contaminated clams can cause illness if eaten raw, particularly in people with compromised immune systems. Clams contaminated with pathogens may look, smell, and taste normal.

People can get sick with food poisoning after ingesting pathogens, toxic elements, or poisonous or deleterious substances. Symptoms may vary, depending on the pathogen or contaminant, and can range from mild to severe. The most common symptoms of food poisoning are diarrhea, stomach pain or cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Symptoms may start within a few hours or may take a few days and can last for a few hours or several days. Consumers of these products who are experiencing food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach pain or cramps, nausea, vomiting, or fever should contact their healthcare provider, who should report their symptoms to their local Health Department and be tested.

On Dec. 11, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health informed the FDA of the recall of Red’s Best chopped clams that had been illegally harvested and are potentially contaminated.

The FDA is issuing this alert advising consumers not to eat, and restaurants and food retailers not to sell Red’s Best chopped clams. The FDA is awaiting further information on the distribution of the chopped clams and will continue to monitor the investigation and assist state authorities as needed.

Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell the potentially contaminated clams. Restaurants and retailers should dispose of any products by throwing them in the garbage or returning them to their distributors for destruction.

Restaurants and retailers should also be aware that shellfish may be a source of pathogens and should control the potential for cross-contamination of food processing equipment and the food processing environment. They should follow the steps below:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators who have processed and packaged potentially contaminated products need to be concerned about cross-contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with the potentially contaminated products.
  • Retailers that have sold bulk products should clean and sanitize the containers used to hold the product.
  • Regularly cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils used in food preparation may help minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.

Consumers should not eat the potentially contaminated clams. Consumers should contact their healthcare provider to report their symptoms and receive care.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)