Botulism Fears Prompt FDA Warning on Gaspereaux Fish


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
December 14, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday urged retailers and restaurant operators to halt sales of ungutted, salt-cured alewives, also known as gaspereaux fish, from Michel & Charles LeBlanc Fisheries Ltd. of New Brunswick because the fish may contain the Clostridium botulinum toxin.

C. botulinum can cause botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening illness. The toxin cannot be eliminated by cooking or freezing.

Nearly 175 30-pound plastic pails of the gaspereaux fish were shipped to four Florida distributors: Quirch Foods, Den-Mar Exports, Dolphin Fisheries and Labrador & Son Food Products. The fish may have been repacked or sold separately by Florida retailers, according to the FDA.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found the adulterated gaspereaux fish in stores and alerted the FDA.

There have been no reported illnesses. However, the FDA advises consumers who purchased gaspereaux fish in Florida to contact the store to determine if the fish originated from Michel & Charles LeBlanc Fisheries. If the fish were from this company or if the source cannot be determined, consumers are urged to discard the fish.

Symptoms of botulism poisoning can begin from six hours to 10 days after eating food containing the toxin. Symptoms include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness that affects first the shoulders and then moves through rest of the body. Botulism poisoning can also cause paralysis of the breathing muscles, which can cause death.

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