More Problems With Imported Fish

Foreign seafood processor warned of illegal exports

|Headache, blurred vision, abdominal cramps, diarrhea may result

| Food Safety News – In a warning letter dated Sept. 4, the FDA informed Natural Sea Product Co. Ltd. of Thailand that the company’s production of shelf-stable, vacuum-packaged dried fish products will be detained at the U.S. border if violations of food safety laws are not resolved.

The owner previously responded to FDA regarding the violations, but the agency warning letter says the new measures he described are inadequate to meet legal requirements.

Violations documented by FDA inspectors included, but are not limited to:

  • A lack of a HACCP* plan to ensure the safety of the dried fish products, which can render food unsafe for human consumption because of biological, chemical, or physical properties;
  • The production procedures do not list the food safety hazard of natural toxins, e.g. ciguatera toxin, which is reasonably likely to occur in yellow stripe trevally caught in tropical and subtropical waters — primary processors need food safety controls for receiving fish directly from the harvest vessels; and
  • Failure to control refrigerated storage to ensure that products held for extended time periods in-process are stored continuously at a temperature of 4.4° C or below to prevent the formation of scombrotoxin.

* Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe and designs measures to reduce these risks to a safe level. – Wikipedia

Republished with permission of Food Safety News. 


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What is scombrotoxin?

Scombroid food poisoning

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • Symptoms: Flushed skin, headache, itchiness, blurred vision, abdominal cramps, diarrhea
  • Usual onset: After 10 to 60 min
  • Duration: Up to 2 days
  • Causes: Eat fish high in histamine due to improper processing
  • Risk factors: Tuna, mackerel, mahi-mahi, sardine, anchovy, herring, bluefish, amberjack, marlin.
  • Diagnostic method: Typically based on symptoms, blood tryptase
  • Differential diagnosis: Allergic reaction, fish allergy
  • Treatment: Antihistamines, epinephrine
  • Frequency: Relatively common
  • Deaths: Very rare

Scombroid food poisoning, also known as simple scombroid, is a foodborne illness that typically results from eating spoiled fish. Symptoms may include flushed skin, headache, itchiness, blurred vision, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

Onset of symptoms is typically 10 to 60 minutes after eating and can last for up to two days. Rarely breathing problems or an irregular heartbeat may occur.

Scombroid occurs from eating fish high in histamine due to inappropriate storage or processing.

Fish commonly implicated include tuna, mackerel, mahi-mahi, sardine, anchovy, herring, bluefish, amberjack, and marlin.

These fish naturally have high levels of histidine which is converted to histamine when bacterial growth occurs during improper storage.

Subsequent cooking, smoking, or freezing does not eliminate the histamine. Diagnosis is typically based on the symptoms and may be supported by a normal blood tryptase. If a number of people who eat the same fish develop symptoms the diagnosis is more likely.

Prevention is by refrigerating or freezing fish right after it is caught.

Treatment is generally with antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and ranitidine. Epinephrine may be used for severe symptoms. Along with ciguatera fish poisoning, it is one of the most common types of seafood poisoning. It occurs globally in both temperate and tropical waters. Only one death has been reported. The condition was first described in 1799.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms typically occur within 10–30 minutes of ingesting the fish and generally are self-limited. People with asthma are more vulnerable to respiratory problems such as wheezing or bronchospasms. However, symptoms may show over two hours after consumption of a spoiled dish. They usually last for about 10 to 14 hours and rarely exceed one to two days. Read more at Wikipedia. 


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