Sushi 'tuna scrape' blamed for US salmonella

A ground fish product known as "tuna scrape," imported to the United States from India, was blamed Monday for a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 116 people, US health authorities said.

The illnesses are being linked to Nakaochi Scrape, or tuna backmeat, "which is specifically scraped off from the bones, and looks like a ground product," said the US Food and Drug Administration.

Many of the people who became ill reported eating raw tuna in sushi as "spicy tuna," the FDA said, adding that illnesses had been tracked to 20 states and had caused 12 hospitalizations but no deaths.

A Californa-based company, Moon Marine USA Corporation, issued a recall of 58,828 pounds (26,683 kilograms) of the frozen raw yellowfin tuna product, which it imported from India, an FDA spokesman told AFP.

Tuna scrape is often used for making sushi sold in restaurants and grocery stores, but is not typically sold to individuals, health authorities said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that collaborative probes by state, local, and federal public health agencies indicate that Nakaochi Scrape "is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly infections."

"Nakaochi Scrape is tuna backmeat that is scraped from the bones of tuna and may be used in sushi, sashimi, ceviche, and similar dishes. The product looks like raw ground tuna."

The CDC added that the ingredient was used to make up between 43 and 71 per cent of sushi orders fingered in the outbreak and 29 to 53 per cent of "spicy tuna" orders.

Earlier this month, a leading US ground-beef processor, AFA Foods, filed for bankruptcy protection after it came under intense criticism for its use of a meat by-product nicknamed "pink slime," formally known as Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT).

BLBT is made from beef trimmings otherwise used in pet food and cooking oil that is treated with a puff of ammonia to deter E. coli bacteria. The lean, finely textured beef is typically added to ground meat, like hamburger, as a low-cost filler.

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