US food safety authorities have voiced concerns over unsanitary conditions at the India-based tuna scrape manufacturing plant at the centre of the Salmonella Bareilly outbreak in the US.
The 10 point report, which was issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Department of Health and Human Services following its inspection of facilities owned by Moon Fishery (India) Ltd., highlighted a lack of HACCP controls within the plant, including those that covered the process of cutting, scraping and packaging.
It also cited concerns about contamination prevention measures relating to ice manufacturing equipment at the facility.
The FDA-conducted inspection took place between 19 and 24 April 2012 – around a week after the Agency linked an outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly to the tuna scrape produced at the plant.
To date, a total of 247 individuals infected with outbreak-related strains of Salmonella Bareilly and have been reported across 24 US states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Eleven cases of Salmonella Nchanga across five states have also been linked to the product.
Ice manufacturing concerns
“Specifically, your HACCP plan for raw tuna does not list critical control points at the following process step to control the hazards of Clostridium Botulinum, histamine and allergens.”
“You are not monitoring the sanitation conditions and practices with sufficient frequency to assure conformance with Current Good Manufacturing Practices including safety of water that comes into contact with food or food contact surfaces,” said the FDA report.
Tanks used for the storage of processing water had “apparent visible debris, filth, and microbiological contamination,” and apparent bird faeces were observed in and on ice manufacturing equipment at the plant.
“Ice manufacturing equipment at your facility is rusty and situated so that the ice cannot be protected against adulteration,” said the report. “Tuna processed at your facility, which is consumed raw or cooked, comes in direct contact with water and ice.”
Product residue was also observed on the plant’s ceiling, utensil storage boxes and knives used to cut raw tuna.
‘Spicy tuna’ recall
Earlier this year, California-based tuna scrape importer Moon Marine USA Corporation (MMI) initiated a voluntarily recall of nearly 60,000 pounds of Nakaochi Scrape AA and AAA – a back meat which is scraped from tuna bones.
The product, which looks like raw ground tuna, is not available for sale to individual consumers but may be used to make sushi, sashimi, ceviche and similar dishes.
According to the FDA, many of those who have fallen ill reported eating raw tuna in ‘spicy tuna’ sushi.
“Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health agencies indicate that a frozen raw yellowfin tuna products, known as Nakaochi Scrape, from Moon Marine USA Corpoarion is the likely source of this outbreak,” said the CDC.