If you’ve eaten raw tuna in the past month, listen up.
The FDA issued a recall for frozen tuna last week that, on first glance, might not seem like that big of a deal. The agency discovered tuna sold in California, Texas and Oklahoma that had been contaminated with Hepatitis A, a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness, according to the World Health Organization.
Not that many retailers are on the recall list, and no illnesses have been reported, so no big deal, right?
Upon closer look, you’ll see that the New Braunfels outpost of Sysco, one of the country’s largest foodservice distributors, is on the recall list. That warehouse delivers ingredients to hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants and retail establishments across Central Texas.
Today, the company declined to say which restaurants might have served the contaminated tuna.
“Our quality team is taking care of the recall. With regard to media, we aren’t providing any comment,” a rep said this morning. Instead of telling consumers which specific restaurants might have sold the product, Sysco directs consumers to follow the FDA’s recall instructions.
Those instructions call for consumers to go to their health professionals if they think they’ve been eaten contaminated raw or rare tuna (and for restaurants to report to their local health department if they served it), but until Sysco announces which restaurants bought the recalled tuna, it’s unclear for consumers to know if they’ve eaten at an establishment that sources its seafood from Sysco.
The City of Austin, in contrast to FDA’s recall page that instructs restaurants to contact the city health department if they think they’ve served it, says that it isn’t involved with FDA recalls. “(The city’s) Environmental Health Services (department) does not have a role as a distributor/ promulgator of FDA recall notices,” Carole Barasch, Austin Public Health’s manager of communications and community development, said via email.
The only other local establishment listed in the recall is Central Market on North Lamar Boulevard. A rep for the grocer said that the tuna was sold at the in-store cafe as a special on May 5, 6, and 7.
The full statement from Central Market:
On June 2, 2017 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified consumers that frozen yellowfin tuna from Hilo Fish Company was being recalled in several states due to a possible Hepatitis A contamination. There have been no reports of illness. Central Market Café located at 4001 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756 utilized the tuna product in the Chef’s Special plate featured only in the Central Market Café on May 5th, 6th and 7th, 2017. H-E-B is committed to the highest standards in food safety, no other Central Market or H-E-B locations are impacted by this recall.
You can click here to find full details about the recalled products, including lot number and expiration date of the specific products.
The bottom line: If you ate raw tuna from any restaurant in Texas in the past month, you might have been exposed to Hepatitis A, a virus that isn’t usually lethal. Cooked tuna, including canned tuna, is not affected.
What you need to know about Hepatitis A: If you contract the virus, symptoms won’t be present for about 50 days, so we won’t know if anyone contracted Hepatitis A from this contaminated tuna for another few weeks. There is a two week window after exposure when you can get a shot that can prevent you from developing it. You should also know that the virus can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact.
Some people have had a Hepatitis A vaccination, but it’s not required for adults.
Vaccination is recommended for all children age 12 months or older, for travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for infection with the virus. The hepatitis A vaccine is given as two shots, six months apart.
In a city that consumes lots of sushi and, as of late, poke, the popular Hawaiian dish made with raw tuna, it’s important that we keep an eye on when and where this tuna might have been sold.
We’ve reached out to a number of local restaurants to find out if any of them might have served the tuna and will keep you posted if we hear about any that can confirm they served the tuna.
As for the local poke restaurants, we have heard from Jason McVeary, owner of Poke Poke, who says that he does not source his tuna from Sysco.