Recently we wrote a bit about the now 20 state salmonella outbreak that was occurring, linked to a fish processor in California. Moon Marine voluntarily recalled 58,828 pounds of frozen raw yellowfin tuna after it was linked to the outbreak. The tuna was packaged as “Nakaochi Scrape AA” or “AAA.” It’s not sold to consumers, rather a bulk product meant for restaurants and food producers. Nakaochi Scrape is the backmeat that’s shaved off fish bones and added to products like ground yellowfin tuna. It’s used in many sushi rolls, among them the spicy tuna rolls that sickened most people. This particular batch of fish came from India.
The Food and Drug Administration said more than 140 illnesses have been reported, including 12 people who have been hospitalized. No deaths have resulted. The first lawsuit stemming from that outbreak has officially been filed.
Two Wisconsin women, 22 and 33, claim they were severely sickened after eating tuna sushi rolls at a local restaurant. The sushi rolls allegedly contained ground yellowfin tuna with Nakaochi Scrape. The victims’ lawyer told MSNBC that distributors may have removed packaging before selling the product to restaurants, leaving them unaware they were selling a potentially dangerous product.
The symptoms of salmonella infections generally include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 72 hours of eating tainted food. Victims usually recover after about a week.
The two Wisconsin women bringing the suit suffered infections that were more severe, requiring hospitalization. One of the women suffered an ulcerated colon, which her lawyer attributes to the tainted fish product.
Food-poisoning cases like this lawsuit generally fall under product liability law. Anyone in the chain of distribution; the manufacturer, distributor, wholesalers, even the restaurant, can be held liable. It’s not known where the contamination originated from, investigations are underway to determine the source. All of the victims were infected with a relatively rare strain of the bacteria, salmonella bareilly.
Ground meats, such as beef or chicken, are often a problematic. The sheer quantity of animals used to make the product means that one infected animal can taint large amounts of the final product. Ground beef and poultry are cooked before being served, generally killing off any harmful bacteria. Because sushi is eaten raw, any contaminated food is infectious.