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Hilo Fish Company Recall After Hepatitis A Found in Frozen Tuna

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are assisting state and local officials in assessing the risk of hepatitis A virus exposure from contaminated frozen tuna sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company, Vietnam, and Santa Cruz Seafood Inc., Philippines. If unvaccinated consumers have consumed the recalled product within the last two weeks, post-exposure prophylaxis may help prevent hepatitis A virus infection.

Fast Facts

  • On May 18, Hilo Fish Company began recalling tuna sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company and Santa Cruz Seafood, Inc. that tested positive for the hepatitis A virus.
  • While the CDC is not currently aware of any illnesses linked to these products, it is advising post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for unvaccinated persons who may have consumed the potentially contaminated tuna within the past two weeks.
  • The FDA is providing a list of establishments in TX, OK, and CA that may currently have potentially contaminated tuna in commerce to help alert consumers that may be at risk of the hepatitis A virus. Contact your health care professional if you believe you have been exposed to contaminated tuna.
  • The current recall resulted from follow-up after the Hawaii Department of Health notified the FDA of a frozen tuna sample, sourced from PT Deho Canning Co.,which tested positive for hepatitis A on May 1, 2017. The initially recalled product has been removed from circulation and the newly recalled frozen tuna lots were not shipped to Hawaii, but were shipped to the mainland U.S.

What was the Problem and What was Done About It?

Consumers may be at risk of contracting a hepatitis A infection due to the consumption of potentially contaminated frozen tuna distributed by Hilo Fish Company and sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company (Lots F5-6 Soui Dau Industrial Zone, Can Lam Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam) and Santa Cruz Seafood, Inc. (General Santos Fishport Complex Tambler, General Santos City, 9500, Philippines). The CDC reports no illnesses to date.

The FDA is collecting additional frozen tuna samples and increasing its screening measures and testing for imported seafood for these companies.

In addition, the agency has prepared a list of restaurants and other retail locations that received the recalled frozen tuna. The agency will continue to update this list as its investigation continues. To protect the health of consumers who may have eaten contaminated tuna and require post-exposure prophylaxis, the FDA has determined that it is necessary to make public the names of these businesses as part of the recall.

Background

On May 1, the Hawaii Department of Health notified the FDA that a sample of frozen tuna cubes from Indonesia tested positive for the hepatitis A virus. On May 2, the FDA contacted the Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC, a subsidiary distributor of Hilo Fish Company, to obtain additional information related to the positive tuna sample. Tropic Fish Hawaii LLC initiated a product recall because the affected product had been distributed to its customers in Oahu, Hawaii (U.S. mainland and other Hawaiian Islands were not affected by the recall). The state of Hawaii embargoed the lot that tested positive and the FDA confirmed the sample was positive.

On May 16, Hilo Fish Company notified the FDA that it had submitted samples of additional shipments held in its cold storage facility in Hawaii to a private laboratory for testing and received additional positive results for the hepatitis A virus. Imported tuna products from this facility were sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company and Santa Cruz Seafood and were distributed to restaurants and other retail locations in CA, NY, OK, and TX. The New York State Department of Health and the FDA verified that product shipped to New York was not sold to the public. The FDA’s investigation in connection with these firms is ongoing.

MORE:

Frozen Fish Product Voluntarily Recalled Due to Positive Test Results for Hepatitis A

Tropic Fish Hawaii (TFH), a wholesale food distributor and subsidiary of CMU and Associates (CMU) on the Big Island, announced they identified and voluntarily recalled a shipment of frozen imported cubed tuna from Indonesia from distribution due to testing positive with the Hepatitis A virus. The company has notified all customers who may have received fish from the shipment and has removed all potentially affected products from public sale.

TFH, through CMU, regularly tests products for the Hepatitis A virus for one if its customers, Times Supermarkets, which implemented a testing requirement for all of its vendors following the Hepatitis A outbreak last year. Late yesterday, upon learning that a sample of the supply tested positive, the company contacted the businesses potentially affected and immediately began voluntarily recalling the product. The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) was notified and TFH is ensuring all proper procedures are being followed under the direction of the DOH.

“Our normal procedure is to receive the test results prior to distribution, but unfortunately that did not happen with this particular shipment,” said Shawn Tanoue, president of Tropic Fish Hawaii. “We have corrected our procedures to ensure this will not happen again. I want to personally apologize to our customers and the public. We are a local company and pride ourselves in our work and in providing the highest-quality products.”

The recalled product was distributed to the following restaurants and retailers, which are all located on Oahu, between April 27 and May 1:

  • ABC Stores #38 (205 Lewers Street)
  • Aloha Sushi Nimit
  • G.P. Hawaiian Food Catering
  • Maili Sunset Bar & Grill
  • Shima’s Market
  • Times Aiea
  • Times Kailua
  • Times Kaneohe
  • Times Kunia
  • Times Liliha
  • Times Mililani
  • Times Waipahu

5/3/17 UPDATE:

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has been notified by Tropic Hawaii, LLC, the distributor for the imported frozen raw ahi, that Aloha Sushi at 3131 N. Nimitz Hwy. received, but did not use any of the product to serve or sell food.

“We apologize for our mistake identifying Aloha Sushi as a food establishment that used the imported ahi recalled by our company yesterday,” said Shawn Tanoue, President of Tropic Fish Hawaii, LLC. “The information we reported to the Department of Health was incorrect and Aloha Sushi did not serve or sell our product that tested positive for hepatitis A.”

At an on-site inspection late yesterday of the ABC store at 205 Lewers St., a DOH inspector was informed by the store and confirmed the recalled product was received and not sold.

The press release issued by DOH identified Aloha Sushi at 3131 N. Nimitz Hwy. and the ABC store at 205 Lewers St. as food establishments that used the recalled product to prepare food sold to customers. This information was provided by distributor Tropic Hawaii to DOH as part of state reporting requirements for food safety

Hepatitis A Infection in Oahu Baskin-Robbins Employee – 52 Cases Now Reported

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is investigating a confirmed case of hepatitis A in a food service employee at the ice cream specialty store, Baskin-Robbins, located at the Waikele Center in Waipahu. The department is advising persons who consumed any food or drink products from this store between June 17 and July 3, 2016 (actual dates: June 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 30, and July 1 and 3) they may have been exposed to the disease.
Baskin Robbins
Unvaccinated individuals should contact their healthcare providers about the possibility of receiving hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure.

This individual is one in a growing number of ill reported to DOH. Since the outbreak began, there have been 52 cases of hepatitis A reported to and now confirmed by DOH. All cases have been in adults on Oahu, 16 have required hospitalization. The department issued a Medical Advisory to all healthcare providers on June 30 urging them to be vigilant and report all suspected hepatitis A infection immediately.

“The source of this outbreak has still not been determined. In the meantime, we encourage all persons consider and talk to their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “This case demonstrates the potential to spread hepatitis A virus to many others who remain susceptible. In an effort to stem the spread of disease, individuals, including food service employees, exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A infection should stay home and contact their healthcare provider.”

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes, and typically last several weeks to as long as two months. Treatment of hepatitis A is supportive, and most people will recover without complications.

While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking foods can also help prevent infection.

Hepatitis A vaccine is readily available at local pharmacies. Two doses of hepatitis A vaccine, given at least six (6) months apart, are needed for lasting protection. For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about hepatitis A can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/hepatitis-a/.

Hepatitis Outbreak on Oahu Continues

Additional cases of hepatitis A infection have been reported to the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH), increasing the number of confirmed cases to 31.  DOH staff worked through the holiday weekend to conduct interviews with the newly identified cases in an effort to identify the cause of infection.

Hepatitis A Facts“Identifying the source of infection is a challenge,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “Hepatitis A has a long incubation period lasting anywhere from two weeks to as long as 50 days.

Accurately recalling all of the foods consumed and locations visited during the period when infection could have taken place is challenging for many, especially those who are still feeling ill.” Patients infected with hepatitis A virus are most contagious during the week before the symptoms start until at least one week after the start of  the first symptoms.

“Since people are contagious before they feel ill, we are very concerned about the disease unknowingly being spreading to others,”said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler.

The virus is found in the stool of people with hepatitis A infection and is usually spread by eating contaminated food or drinking water, and can be spread through close personal or sexual contact. A person who has hepatitis A can easily pass the disease to others within the same household.

For this reason, DOH investigators are currently reaching out to individuals who were in contact with those who have or had hepatitis A. Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin (a substance made from human blood plasma that contains antibodies to protect the body against diseases) administered within the first two weeks after exposure may provide some protection against the disease.

Unvaccinated individuals recently exposed to the disease are encouraged to talk to their healthcare providers about these preventive measures.

DOH continues to encourage the public to review their immunization record and talk to their healthcare provider about vaccination.

For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent hand washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking and preparing foods can also help prevent infection.

Additional information about hepatitis A can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/hepatitis-a/.