April 11, 2024

Vibrio Outbreak Linked to Fresh Crab Meat From Venezuela Ends; Lawsuits Possible

The Vibrio outbreak that was linked to fresh crab meat imported from Venezuela has ended, according to the FDA. As of September 27, 2018 26 lab-confirmed cases in seven states and the District of Columbia were reported in people who ate this product. Nine people were hospitalized. Illness onset dates ranged from April 1, 2018 to July 19, 2018.


Vibrio Outbreak Venezuela Crab

The FDA’s Bacterial Analytical Manual states that ““A heat-processed product should not contain viable V. parahaemolyticus and if so, would indicate a significant problem in manufacturing practices or post-process contamination.” The notice states that “Consumers and restaurants may want to consider using pasteurized crab meat or fully recooking (bringing to an internal temperature of at least 165°F) fresh crab meat, particularly for items that will be served cold.”

The crab in this Vibrio outbreak was labeled “fresh” or “pre-cooked” and is a ready-to-eat product.

Bacterial isolates from twelve patients were analyzed using whole genome sequencing (WGS), and it was confirmed that all twelve isolates are genetically related to each other, which means they are likely to have a common source.

FDA collaborated with state partners in the traceback investigation. They found that there were multiple Venezuelan processors that supplied multiple brands of crab meat during the outbreak. Traceback did not identify a single firm as the source in this Vibrio outbreak.

Because of this outbreak, FDA increased testing of fresh crab meat from Venezuela. While they did not find Vibrio in any tested samples, they did find Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in some crab meat samples collected at import. Those products were not allowed into the country.

The symptoms of Vibrio food poisoning include diarrhea that may be bloody or watery, vomiting, abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, and stomach pain. People usually get sick about 24 hours after eating food contaminated with this bacteria.

Vibrio bactéria live naturally in coastal waters. The bacteria occur in higher concentrations between May and October when water temps are warmer.

Anyone who eats raw or undercooked shellfish is at risk of this infection. Unfortunately, this product was a pre-cooked food that is usually served chilled or lightly re-heated. For that reason, consumers and restaurants may want to consider using pasteurized crab meat or recooking fresh crab meat. It’s a good idea, when ordering shellfish in restaurants, to ask that they be fully cooked unless they have been treated such as with pressure treatment to reduce bacterial contamination.

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