FDA Warns Against Contaminated Korean Seafood

By Chelsea Whyte on June 15, 2012 9:52 PM EDT

Mussels
Avoid eating mussels and other shellfish that come from South Korea. The FDA found that the sanitary conditions don't meet U.S. standards, resulting in a norovirus contamination. (Photo: Creative Commons.)

The Food and Drug Administration is urging stores and restaurants in the United States to stop carrying imported Korean oysters, clams, mussels and some scallops because they have been found to be contaminated with norovirus due to exposure to human fecal waste.

According to the FDA, at least four people in the United States have become sick after eating South Korean seafood - three in October and one in December, reports Reuters.

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The warning covers fresh, frozen, canned and processed seafood products that entered the U.S. before May 1, 2012, when the FDA removed the products from the approved Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List.

The Korean Shellfish Sanitation Program was evaluated and found to no longer meet FDA cleanliness standards. Some food companies have already removed the products from distribution, but many still have yet to take the contaminated seafood off their shelves.

Norovirus causes diarrhea and vomiting, and may induce symptoms such as fever, nausea, stomach cramping, or muscle aches. Most people show symptoms 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus.

The agency advises consumers to check seafood labels and contact distributors of seafood to determine the origin of any products they are concerned about.

U.S. representatives are in talks with South Korean officials about the problem. Korean government officials said they are working to strengthen the monitoring of seafood production facilities and will tighten sanitation controls and ask the FDA to review its position.

"We know there are some sanitation problems at some seafood production facilities. We will increase the monitoring of seafood production facilities and take action if needed," said Ahn Chi-gook, an official at the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, according to Fox News Latino.

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