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FDA Warns of Scombroid Poisoning Link to Fish Sold at Kroger

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers to avoid eating fish sold at a popular grocery store due to reports of scombroid poisoning.

According to a statement issued by the agency, several cases of scombroid poisoning were reported on September 4, 2019, among individuals who consumed tuna steaks purchased from 3 different Kroger retail stores in Ohio.

When fish products are not properly stored or preserved, they can contain high levels of histamine, which, in turn, causes scombroid poisoning. Fish with naturally high levels of the amino acid histidine are most at risk for the poisoning because when the fish is not stored properly, the bacteria converts to histamine.

According to the FDA, scombroid poisoning symptoms typically develop within a few minutes to 1 hour following consumption of contaminated fish. Symptoms are similar to that of an allergic reaction and often consist of itching, blurred vision, heart palpitations, flushed face, cramps, and diarrhea. Antihistamines may be administered as treatment but, even without, symptoms should resolve within 12 hours.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, individuals who have unusually low levels of the enzyme diamine oxidase may be more susceptible to histamine toxicity. For individuals who experience severe symptoms, a consultation with an allergist or immunologist is recommended to determine whether a food allergy may exist.

On September 5, 2019, Kroger agreed to remove all yellowfin tuna steaks from stores across 16 states and began notifying consumers who purchased the product to dispose of the item or return it to the store. The FDA specifies that the products have a sell by date ranging from August 29, 2019, to September 14, 2019, may be sold at the seafood counter or in store-prepped Styrofoam trays. The agency is also working with the distributor of the fish to remove any additional items that may be adulterated from the market.

Any consumer who experiences symptoms of scombroid poisoning should contact their health care provider directly. Consumers who have recently experienced symptoms consistent with scombroid poisoning should report their illness to their local health department.

The FDA has not classified this situation as an outbreak at this time. Contagion® will provide updates as they become available.
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