The company that distributed frozen, raw scallops connected to a hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii has issued a voluntary recall of the product, the Food and Drug Administration said.
The scallops were distributed by Sea Port Products Corp. in California, Hawaii and Nevada and produced on Nov. 23, 2015 and Nov. 24, 2015, according to an update posted on the FDA.gov website.
The scallops were sold to restaurants and other vendors, but were not intended for retail sale.
“Consumers should ask the restaurant or retailer where their scallops came from to make sure they do not eat recalled Bay Scallops from Sea Port Products Corp.,” the FDA said.
FDA lab tests found hepatitis A in scallop samples, which were imported from the Philippines by Sea Port. The company has offices in Kirkland, Wash.
The health department confirmed 206 cases of hepatitis A as of earlier this week. The disease can cause fever, loss of appetite, nausea and other ailments.
“I am deeply troubled at the thought that anyone may have become ill from eating product that we shipped,” Sea Port owner Bill Dresser said in a statement Thursday. “I am also fully committed to trying to find out how this may have happened and to work to prevent it from happening again not only to Sea Port, but to the entire seafood community.”
Health officials on Monday identified frozen scallops served raw at a sushi chain as the probable source of the outbreak. They ordered 11 Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai to close. The popular restaurants, which serve sushi on conveyor belts, must dispose of their food supply and disposable items like cups and napkins and disinfect the facilities before they reopen.
There’s a Hawaii-wide embargo on the product, meaning businesses aren’t allowed to sell them and consumers are advised not to eat them, the health department said.
The state health department first announced the hepatitis A outbreak on July 1, but it struggled to identify the source because of the disease’s long incubation period. It’s been difficult for those infected to remember everything they ate and all the people with whom they had contact.
Dr. Sarah Park, the state’s epidemiologist, said one key piece of information was that 70 percent of those infected had eaten at Genki Sushi, but only 22 to 23 percent of those who replied to a department survey had. She said health officials didn’t get a response like that for any other restaurant, food chain or grocery store.
Park said the department is concerned the scallops may have been served or distributed to places other than Genki Sushi because a small number of patients say they didn’t eat at the chain. Park said the distributor said it only provided the scallops to the Genki Sushi.
Park said the health department has notified other U.S. health agencies so doctors around the country can consider travel history to Hawaii if their patients report hepatitis A symptoms.
People can contract the virus by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, close personal contact or sex.
Vaccination is the best protection against hepatitis A, an infectious liver disease. People who think they consumed the scallops should contact their health care providers about getting the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which can provide protection if given within two weeks of exposure. Vigorous hand washing can also help prevent the spread of the virus.
A statewide list of vaccinating pharmacies can be found at 808ne.ws/29l6l7D, or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 211.