ST. PAUL, Minn. (Jan. 13, 2016) — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is alerting Metro-area consumers to avoid eating dried uneviscerated fish after the MDA and City of Brooklyn Park officials discovered uneviscerated product was being sold at three grocery stores, African International Market and Valu Foods African Market both located in Brooklyn Park, Minn., and Fountains African Food Market in Crystal, MN. The uneviscerated fish included pike and bony fish varieties. Inspection and laboratory analysis of the product showed that the internal organs (viscera) had not been removed.
There are no reports of illness associated with the fish product. However, the MDA issued the advisory because eating salted or smoked, or dried uneviscerated fish, or product that has not had complete removal of all internal organs, can result in potentially deadly botulism poisoning, a severe form of food poisoning. Fish that are salted, dried or smoked, are over 5 inches in length, and are of the pike, kuta, or bony fish variety have a greater risk of not being properly eviscerated.
The MDA is working to determine additional product sources and distribution channels. Consumers are advised to throw away any dried uneviscerated fish they may have purchased.
The FDA recommends that any product that will be preserved by salting, drying, pickling, or fermentation should be fully eviscerated prior to processing.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of botulism poisoning include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to include paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk and respiratory muscles. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, but symptoms can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days after eating contaminated food.
Consumers who think they may have become ill after eating uneviscerated fish should contact a doctor or other health care provider.