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Animals Health News Packaged Food

Improperly Gutted Mackerel Being Recalled By The FDA For Potential Botulism

This may be one of the grossest-sounding food recalls of all time.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a nationwide recall of “The Duck” brand “Frozen Steamed Scomber Fish” because it wasn’t gutted properly. The error in fish processing was discovered at a local grocery store by agriculture inspectors in New York, where it’s illegal to sell fish who still have their intestines (and the literal crap within) inside of them.  This particular product has been distributed nationwide to retail stores with a red label marked “Product of Thailand” and UPC code 040459097206.

Incorrectly gutted fish have a high chance of containing spores of Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria known for poisoning people with botulinum toxin: the same chemical that was in the nacho cheese sauce from a gas station that killed a man last month.

The spores of this bacteria grow especially well in the poopy entrails of scomber fish (better known as mackerel), and can cause symptoms in people who consume them ranging from dizziness and blurred vision to muscle weakness, difficulty in breathing, and even paralysis.

Fortunately, no illnesses from these mackerel have yet to be reported, but if you do see them on shelves or in someone’s home, make sure to toss the fish and prevent anyone from contracting this horrible disease. If you’ve bought it, also make sure to discard of it ASAP.

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Health News Packaged Food Products Science

Rare Botulism Outbreak Likely Happened Due To Gas Station’s Nacho Cheese

A rare outbreak of botulinum poisoning linked to a Sacramento-area gas station has resulted in at least five confirmed hospitalizations.

The Sacramento Bee reports that nacho cheese sold at the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station is the likely source of the poisoning, which may have also resulted in four additional poisonings of patients currently in medical care. While the case is still under investigation, the gas station’s permit to sell food and drink has been revoked at least until the whole mess is sorted out.

Botulinum poisoning, which stems from the microorganism Clostridium botulinum (CBOT), is among some of the worst food-borne illnesses you can possibly contract. It’s relatively rare, with only 15 confirmed cases occurring in the United States in 2014, but it can be deadly in extremely small doses. Just a few micrograms of the neurotoxins that CBOT excretes are enough to cause poisoning within 18-36 hours of ingestion, resulting in symptoms including weakness, vertigo, double vision, and constipation, along with more severe symptoms such as paralysis and death. Botulinum poisoning has a high mortality rate to begin with, so without the antidote and respiratory support to treat it, death is very likely.

Typically, CBOT grows well in airtight cans that weren’t properly sterilized during processing, making canned nacho cheese sauce a possible culprit in the investigation. If you see a bloated can, it’s a sure sign of CBOT growing in that food, and you should discard of it immediately.

The family of one of the confirmed victims is suing the gas station in Sacramento Superior Court for negligence, product liability, and breach of implied warranty, which could potentially cost the station millions. Other than that, if you consumed food at the Valley Oak Food and Fuel between April 23rd and May 5th and have experienced or are currently suffering from any of the above symptoms, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the outbreak has claimed its first victim, as ABC7 reports that one of the five confirmed patients battling botulism passed away. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help his family.