Food & Drink

Crab meat from Venezuela is linked to an outbreak of a diarrhea-causing illness, FDA says

Steamed crab meat from blue crab
Steamed crab meat from blue crab Centers for Disease Control

Fresh Venezuelan crab meat that is commonly served in restaurants and sold in supermarkets has been linked to a multi-state outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control said.

Four people have been hospitalized in the outbreak, the CDC said.

“Consumers are advised to ask where their crab meat is from, if dining out at a restaurant or in grocery stores,” the FDA said in a late Friday outbreak alert. “This product is commonly found in plastic tubs and may be labeled as ‘pre-cooked’.”

“Retailers should not serve or sell fresh crab meat imported from Venezuela.”

The CDC warns, “Food contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus usually looks, smells, and tastes normal” and “If you buy crab meat and do not know whether it is from Venezuela, do not eat, serve, or sell it. Throw it away.”

The outbreak has sickened 12 people in three states and the District of Columbia: Maryland (eight), Louisiana (two), Pennsylvania and DC (one each).

This infection usually strikes within a day, bringing watery, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and stomachaches.

Preventative measures include:

Proper washing of hands, utensils, and cutting boards with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.

Make sure the crab you order in restaurants is fully cooked unless, the FDA says, “they have been treated with a method to reduce Vibrio (such as pressure treatment).”