Hepatitis A tuna recall could affect Austin restaurants – MyStatesman.com

If you’ve eaten raw or rare tuna in the past month, listen up.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a recall for frozen tuna steaks and cubes last week after the agency found that some tuna sold in California, Texas and Oklahoma had been contaminated with hepatitis A, a viral liver disease that, according to the World Health Organization, can cause mild to severe illness.

Not that many retailers are on the recall list, and no illnesses have been reported. But the list does include the New Braunfels outpost of Sysco, one of the country’s largest food service distributors. That warehouse delivers ingredients to hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants and retail establishments across Central Texas.

Monday, the company declined to say which restaurants might have served potentially contaminated tuna.

“Our quality team is taking care of the recall. With regard to media, we aren’t providing any comment,” a company representative said. Instead of telling consumers which specific restaurants might have sold the product, Sysco directs consumers to follow the FDA’s recall instructions.

Those instructions call for consumers to go to their health professional if they think they might have eaten contaminated raw or rare tuna, and for restaurants to report to their local health department if they served it.

However, the city of Austin says that it isn’t involved with FDA recalls.

“Environmental Health Services does not have a role as a distributor/promulgator of FDA recall notices,” Carole Barasch, Austin Public Health’s manager of communications and community development, said via email.

It could be difficult for consumers to know whether they’ve eaten at an establishment that receives its seafood from Sysco.

The only other local establishment listed in the recall is Central Market on North Lamar Boulevard. A representative for the grocer said that the tuna was sold at the in-store cafe as a special on May 5, 6, and 7 and that there have been no reports of illness.

The bottom line: If you ate raw or rare tuna from a restaurant in Texas in the past month, you might have been exposed to hepatitis A. Cooked tuna, including canned tuna, is not affected.

If you contract the virus, symptoms won’t be present for about 50 days, so it could be unclear whether anyone contracted hepatitis A from this contaminated tuna for another few weeks. The virus can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact.

There is a two-week window after exposure when a person can get a shot that can prevent development of the virus. Some people have had a hepatitis A vaccinations, but it’s not required for adults.

The Statesman reached out to a number of local restaurants to find out whether any of them might have served the tuna. Jason McVeary, owner of Poke Poke, which serves the popular Hawaiian dish made with raw tuna, says that he does not receive his tuna from Sysco.