In September 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a safety warning about certain yellow fin tuna steaks sold at Kroger stores. The FDA warning states that certain lots of tuna sold at Kroger seafood counters and on shelves may cause scombroid poisoning.
Most people have never heard of scombroid poisoning, and will not know exactly what the dangers are. That is why Bad Food Recall wants to highlight this lesser-known foodborne illness. We want our readers to have as much information as possible about the foods they eat, as well as foods that are potentially dangerous.
FDA Warning About Tuna Steaks
According to the FDA, the yellow fin tuna steaks were sold at Kroger at the seafood counter, and in Styrofoam trays in the seafood department. The potentially dangerous tuna has sell-by dates of August 29 through September 14, 2019. It is possible that consumers may have purchased this tuna and stored it in their freezers, making the danger of illness still concerning.
The tuna steaks were sold at Kroger stores in several states including Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Ohio. Consumers who have tuna steaks from Kroger should discard them immediately. Anyone who has eaten tuna from Kroger and then experienced symptoms of foodborne illness should contact their healthcare provider.
What is Scombroid Poisoning?
Scombroid poisoning is a type of food poisoning caused by consuming fish that is in the beginning stages of spoiling. During spoiling, or decomposition, fish become contaminated with bacteria. This bacterial spoilage can cause food poisoning in people who consume the products.
The reason this type of food poisoning is called scombroid is because the bacteria most commonly develop on fish in the Scombridae family. Fish in this family, and close relatives, include:
When these fish begin to spoil, their muscle protein breaks down releasing a toxin with high levels of histamine. In response, the spoiling process releases additional toxins and by-products, which make the toxicity of the meat even higher.
The toxins related to scombroid poisoning cannot be destroyed by freezing, curing, cooking, smoking, or canning.
What are the Symptoms of Scombroid Poisoning?
Symptoms of scombroid poisoning can begin quickly, within two hours of consuming a tainted product. Symptoms generally begin with an allergic response, with symptoms including:
The allergic response can then advance to symptoms including:
- Abdominal Cramps
More severe cases of scombroid poisoning may include more concerning symptoms, such as blurred vision, swelling of the tongue and respiratory distress.
These symptoms generally last for four to six hours, but can last up to two days. Scombroid poisoning has a quick onset and generally resolves very quickly. Consumers often confuse these symptoms with an allergy or more common form of food poisoning.
How to Avoid Scombroid Poisoning
Scombroid poisoning is preventable through proper food safety practices and handling of fresh fish. Fish in the Scombridae family require handling with care. Of course, fresh fish should always be washed immediately, and be iced or refrigerated immediately. Histamine can reach toxic levels in fish within a matter of six to 12 hours of exposure to room temperature.
Prevention begins, of course, with proper handling of fresh-caught fish. Commercial and recreational fishermen must be diligent in properly handling fish in order to prevent contamination that can impact those who consume the product.
FDA Warning Includes Instructions for Reporting Scombroid Poisoning
Consumers should always contact their healthcare provider if they believe they are suffering from food poisoning. The FDA warning also urges consumers to file a complaint or adverse event report. The FDA warning recommends consumers to do the following:
- Contact your local Health Department
- Complete the FDA’s reporting form through their MedWatch program
- If you want to talk to someone directly, you can contact an FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator
If you have questions or concerns about scombroid poisoning or other foodborne illness, you can also reach out to Bad Food Recall. We have a plethora of information and resources about foodborne illnesses. Also, we can help consumers learn more about how to protect their rights.