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Herring Recalled in Botulism Risk

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Euphoria Fancy Food Inc. is recalling its Herring Special Salting fish after an inspection by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Market Food Inspectors found that the fish had not been properly gutted prior to processing.

Clostridium botulinum spores are most likely to be found in the internal organs of the fish (organs such as the heart, liver, stomach and intestines) than any other part of the body. The muscle (or fillet) of the fish is the part that is usually eaten. Clostridium botulinum spores can cause botulism, a food poisoning illness that can be serious or even fatal. Uneviscerated (not gutted) fish have led to outbreaks of botulism.

Symptoms of botulism:

Double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, dry mouth, constipation, muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech. The reflexes, such as the gag reflex and the knee jerk reflex, may be absent. If left untreated, the neurotoxins can cause paralysis and eventually paralyze the breathing muscles and result in respiratory failure.

Treatment of Botulism:

Treatment includes induction of vomiting to remove contaminated food from the body, or by enemas. Supportive emergency intensive care is also used, such as mechanical ventilation, if needed. An injection of antibodies to botulism can be given if the patient is in the early stages of poisoning but may not help if given later. This is because medics aren’t sure exactly how much antitoxin is needed to counteract botulism.

"Experimental evidence concerning the amount of circulating antitoxin needed to counteract botulism toxin poisoning by antitoxin therapy is not fully documented. The outcome of treatment depends, as it does in other comparable conditions, largely on the time interval elapsing after onset of symptoms before the peak of absorbed antitoxin is reached. This principle is illustrated in reported animal experiments."

This type of treatment is not suitable for anyone with an allergy to horses as the antibodies are derived from horses. It is also not suitable for anyone with asthma or hay fever as it may result in anaphylactic shock in people with these conditions.

Prevention of Botulism:

Botulism can be prevented by thoroughly cooking food, as cases can be caused by improperly cooked food. Fish should be gutted and cooking oils that are infused with garlic or herbs should be kept in the fridge. Honey should not be given to babies under one year of age as this sometimes contains clostridium botulinum.

The recalled Herring Special Salting that has been recalled due to botulism risk comes in an uncoded, 48.58oz (1300gr) plastic container and is a product of Russia. Herring Special Salting was sold in New York State.

Customers with any of this fish should not eat it and return it to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 718-768-3400.

FDA Press Release, 20th July 2011 - http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm264197.htm
Botulism: the challenge of diagnosis and treatment, Rev Neurol Dis. 2006 Fall;3(4):182-9 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17224901?dopt=Abstract
Botulism in the United States: a clinical and epidemiologic review, Ann Intern Med. 1998 Aug 1;129(3):221-8 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9696731
MedicineNet, Botulism, page accessed 23rd July 2011 - http://www.medicinenet.com/botulism/article.htm
Botulism Antitoxin Bivalent (Equine) Types A and B, Package Insert - http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/ApprovedProducts/LicensedProductsBLAs/FractionatedPlasmaProducts/UCM199550.pdf

Reviewed July 25, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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