A bacteria called Vibrio parahaemolyticus has sickened at least a dozen people in four states.
Though there are no official recalls, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning Americans to stay away from imported crab, especially from the country of Venezuela as cases of severe food poisoning have popped up in four different states.
The affected crab meat contains a bacteria called Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which has caused at least 12 individuals mostly in the Mid-Atlantic region to fall ill with serious symptoms, including chronic vomiting, severe diarrhea, and dangerously high fevers. Victims of this outbreak have been reported in Maryland, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and Louisiana, so far—four of these individuals have been hospitalized as of today.
The FDA has yet to identify a single product associated with the sickness—they're advising the public that the crab meat in question can often be found in pre-packed plastic tubs and labeled as "pre-cooked." This kind of crab meat can be served chilled or as part of a warm dish.
More on food safety:
- Our Nutritionists Guide to Understanding Food Poisoning of All Kinds
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Like many other forms of food poisoning, symptoms of Vibrio parahaemolyticus-related sickness include painful stomach cramps, nausea, body pain, vomiting, as well as loose, bloody stools and diarrhea.
Given that the federal agencies have been unable to pinpoint the exact manufacturer or source of the tarnished crab meat, home cooks and shoppers alike are advised to ask their local grocery retailers where their crab products are sourced from before buying any.
Furthermore, the CDC says that crab containing Vibrio parahaemolyticus can effectively contaminate any other seafood in a kitchen just by proximity—which includes countertops and prep areas as well.
The most effective way to minimize any chance of spreading this bacteria, as well as many other foodborne illnesses, is to wash your hands thoroughly and to sanitize any prep areas.