BISMARCK — Four cases of salmonella in North Dakota are likely linked to frozen raw ground tuna, part of a national outbreak in seven states.
Thirteen cases have been identified so far, the North Dakota Department of Health announced in a news release Wednesday, April 17. Two cases have resulted in hospitalizations, but no deaths have been reported. Illnesses were reported between Jan. 8 and March 20.
State officials declined to disclose where the cases happened in North Dakota, citing privacy laws.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration found evidence that the source of the cases is likely tuna supplied by Louisiana-based Jensen Tuna Inc., which on Monday voluntarily recalled the fish it had imported from JK Fish of Vietnam.
The recalled goods were packaged in 1-pound bags and shipped in boxes containing 20 each to distributors in Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota and Washington, the FDA said Tuesday.
Minnesota Department of Health spokesman Doug Schultz said there’s no evidence of the outbreak affecting that state. There was one recent case of the same strain found in the tuna, salmonella Newport, but the person infected didn’t report eating tuna.
Fargo sushi restaurant Wasabi immediately pulled Jensen ground tuna from its kitchen Wednesday morning, executive chef TJ Edra said, explaining that the ground beef-like product is typically used to make spicy tuna rolls.
Health inspectors arrived at the restaurant that morning to inform them of the recall.
“We were aware of it right away. It’s all gone already,” he said. “We aren’t going through that supplier anymore.”
Edra said the restaurant has already switched to a new ground tuna supplier and will be getting its first new shipment Friday. Until then, the restaurant will be using fresh tuna slices as a substitute.
Coborn’s Inc., which owns Fargo-Moorhead area Hornbacher’s stores and Cash Wise Foods, said it was not affected by the recall. “Our stores do not carry ground tuna nor does our distributor carry this product,” company spokesperson Chrissy Gaetke said in an email.
As the recall continues, North Dakota Department of Health epidemiologist Laura Cronquist urged restaurant-goers and shoppers to exercise caution.
“Consumers who order sushi made with raw tuna, including ‘spicy tuna,’ should ask whether the tuna is from Jensen Tuna Inc. If you are not sure if the tuna has been recalled, do not eat it,” she said.
Common symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and usually begin to set in 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Pregnant women, children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65 and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable.