The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local health departments warn against eating possibly contaminated crab meat imported from Venezuela.
The said produce is linked to multistate bacteria outbreak that already saw eight people being sick in Maryland, two in Louisiana, one in Pennsylvania, and another one in the District of Columbia. Four of the people in Maryland have been hospitalized. Cases were reported from April 1 to July 3.
The bacteria were identified as Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Food contaminated with the bacteria may look like, smell, and taste normal. This means that there is no immediate way to know which fresh crab meat needs to be avoided aside from knowing whether they were bought from Venezuela.
The fresh crab meat under investigation is being sold as fresh produce that may be served chilled or lightly reheated. The product is commonly sold in plastic tubs labeled as “pre-cooked.”
To date, FDA, CDC, and local health departments have yet to identify the main source or importer of the contaminated fresh crab meat.
What To Do
Consumers should check the label on the crab meat when purchasing from the grocery. Those who have crab meat kept in their freezer at homes are advised to check whether the products were from Venezuela. If they are, it would be better to dispose the product right away.
For those dining in restaurants, it is highly advised to ask the management where the crab meat is from. The same goes when buying crab meat from groceries.
If the origin of the product could not be determined, FDA recommends not eating it regardless if the crab meat was served in a restaurant or bought from the supermarket.
Restaurants and retailers, meanwhile, should also discard all supplies of fresh and cooked crab meat that came from Venezuela. Establishments are also advised to throw away all food supplies that were at risk for cross-contamination. They should get rid of food stored in the same storage with the contaminated fresh crab meat. They also should sanitize all equipment and utensil that came in contact with the crab meat from Venezuela.
The Vibrio bacteria can cause watery diarrhea alongside abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. Symptoms occur within 24 hours and may last about three days. Most of those who contract the bacteria can recover promptly.
Severe illness is rare and usually happens to people with an impaired immune system. Hence, children younger than 5 and the elderly are advised to take extra precaution when eating fresh seafood.
Some species of the vibrio bacteria can cause skin infection when they penetrated an open wound in the skin. This type of vibrio bacteria usually thrive in brackish water or the water found where rivers meet the sea.