Listeria Risk Prompts Alaska to Request Salmon Recall

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) just requested that a fish processor located in Fairbanks, Alaska recall 24 pounds of smoked salmon it sold between late August and early November, said Newsminer. The salmon tested positive for <"">Listeria bacteria.

In response, Interior Alaska Fish Processors Inc. owner, Virgil Umphenour, said he will not issue a recall, saying he has no faith in Alaska’s testing procedures, but has arranged for samples to be tested by an independent laboratory, wrote Newsminer.

The DEC issued two similar recalls previously. Umphenour mantains the samples he sent to an independent lab came back negative in both cases. “No one has said they got sick from eating our smoked salmon,” Umphenour said

Meanwhile, Robert Pressley, the seafood section chief at the DEC, said a sample taken this summer tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, wrote Newsminer, citing an agency press release. The agency requested Umphenour issue a press release to alert consumers, said Newsminer, but he refused. The DEC issued a statement in the interest of public health.

The fish involved is Santa’s Smokehouse brand “Cajun-Style Smoked Keta Salmon,” which was sold in half-pound packages labeled “Batch 245” at the company’s retail store on Davis Road between August 27 and November 6, wrote Newsminer. Some 40 pounds were produced; 24 were sold, said Umphenour. The DEC seized the remaining 16. No other Santa’s Smokehouse brands are involved and no illnesses have been reported, to date.

The DEC is working with Umphenour to determine the root of the contamination and “ensure the safety of his products,” said Pressley,

Listeria symptoms may include fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If the infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, or confusion. The illness is most dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, very young children, and those with weakened immune systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Listeria kills about 500 people each year in the U.S. and about 2,500 people become seriously ill.

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