Published Date: 2006-12-06 00:00:00
Subject: PRO/EDR> Botulism, canned uneviscerated fish - USA: recall
Archive Number: 20061206.3439
BOTULISM, CANNED UNEVISCERATED FISH - USA: RECALL
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Tue 5 Dec 2006
From: Brent Barrett <email@example.com>
Source: FDA [edited]
East Coast Foods Inc. in Brooklyn, NY, is recalling 48 cans of Kaija
brand uneviscerated Herring in Special Brine. The uneviscerated fish
was discovered by New York State Department of Agriculture and
Markets inspectors during a routine inspection, and subsequent
analysis of the product by Food Laboratory personnel confirmed that
the fish had not been eviscerated prior to processing.
This product may be contaminated with _Clostridium botulinum_ spores,
which can cause botulism, a serious and potentially fatal food-borne illness.
The sale of this type of fish is prohibited under New York State
Department of Agriculture and Markets regulations because _C.
botulinum_ spores are more likely to be concentrated in the viscera
than in any other portion of the fish. Uneviscerated fish has been
linked to outbreaks of botulism poisoning.
The recalled Kaija brand uneviscerated Herring in Special Brine, in
an un-coded 1300g metal can with Cyrillic but no English labeling,
was sold nationwide.
No illnesses have been reported to date.
Consumers who have Kaija brand uneviscerated Herring in Special Brine
are advised not to eat it but should return it to the place of
purchase. Consumers with questions should contact the company at
Indianapolis, IN, USA
[The following is from FDA Regulations Section 540.650 -
Uneviscerated Fish Products that are Salt-cured, Dried, or Smoked (CPG 7108.17)
Uneviscerated, salt-cured, whole fish products have caused several
outbreaks of botulism and death. _C. botulinum_ spores are ubiquitous
in fishery products and the marine environment. The spores represent
a public health hazard when conditions are suitable for vegetative
cell growth and toxin production.
Three outbreaks of botulism, causing 3 deaths and 11 illnesses,
resulted from kapchunka in the USA between 1981 and 1987. Kapchunka,
an ethnic food usually produced from whitefish, is also known as
"rybetz," "ribeyza," or "rostov." Kapchunka is an uneviscerated,
salt-cured, air-dried, whole fish, which may or may not be smoked. It
is consumed without further preparation, such as cooking.
The fish are salt-cured under minimum refrigeration conditions for a
minimum of 25 days and then air dried at ambient temperature for 3 to
7 days. Kapchunka may be smoked before packing and are commonly
stored under refrigeration.
In 1991, 2 botulism outbreaks occurred. In one, "Faseikh" was
implicated in at least 91 illnesses and 18 deaths in Egypt. Faseikh
is a traditional product made by fermenting uneviscerated fresh
mullet for up to one day and then salt-curing it in barrels which may
be tightly sealed from one week to one year. In another, an ethnic
fish product called "moloha" caused a botulism outbreak involving 4
family members in New Jersey. Moloha is an uneviscerated, salt-cured
fish product similar to "faseikh." The preparation steps in the New
Jersey incident were not identified since the source of the "moloha"
could not be found.
Other salt-cured products, such as "bloaters," can also pose a public
health hazard. Bloaters are prepared by salt-curing uneviscerated,
whole herring, which may or may not be smoked. Bloaters may be
transformed into other products, such as fillets or bloater paste. In
addition to the products noted above, whole fish that are dried,
pickled, or fermented can also pose a public health hazard. The
referenced episodes of botulism are representative of a
well-documented history of life-threatening health hazards associated
with uneviscerated, salt-cured fish.
The problems with these products are compounded by the difficulty in
attaining sufficient levels of salt in all portions of an
uneviscerated fish to inhibit the growth of the _C. botulinum_.
Consequently, any fish product that is salt-cured and then dried,
smoked, pickled, or fermented can pose a public health hazard. Toxin
may be present in these products even when there are no outward signs
of microbiological spoilage or other clear indications to alert the consumer.
Control of growth and toxin production from _C. botulinum_ in fishery
products is based on spore destruction (e.g., retorting canned foods)
or inhibition of vegetative cell growth (e.g., control of water
activity, or pH, or use of approved chemical inhibitors). The control
measures must be applied rapidly and uniformly throughout the product
to protect consumers from this potentially life-threatening toxin.
Control of botulism can also be achieved in salted, dried, or smoked
products prepared from small species of uneviscerated fish (generally
3 to 5 inches in length). Typically, these products are prepared from
small anchovy and herring sprats. As uneviscerated fish under 5
inches in length are processed, their smaller size helps to ensure
complete permeation of the flesh with inhibitory levels of salt or
drying to a uniformly low water activity, resulting in the attainment
of conditions that prevent the growth of _C. botulinum_.
FDA considers uneviscerated fish that are salt-cured, dried, or
smoked to represent a potentially life-threatening health hazard. In
addition, fillets, parts, or other products derived from
uneviscerated fish pose the same potential health hazard as the
original product. Therefore, with the exception of small,
uneviscerated fish as described above, FDA considers uneviscerated
fish that have been salt-cured, dried, or smoked, as well as products
made from them, to be adulterated within the meaning of section
402(a)(4) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, in that the
product has been prepared, packed, or held under unsanitary
conditions whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health.
These products are hazardous whether stored at ambient temperature,
refrigerated, or frozen, or whether packaged in air, vacuum, or
It is not clear what the size of the canned herring was in this recall.
ProMED thanks Brent Barrett for this posting. - Mod.LL]