The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated its website, which provides information on commonly occurring seafood-related illnesses and how to report them.
FDA relies on illness reporting from public health officials and healthcare providers in order to help it effectively investigate, remove unsafe seafood products from the market, and develop new prevention strategies.
Most foodborne outbreaks are tracked through FDA's Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation network, but seafood-related illnesses caused by natural toxins have a unique reporting mechanism.
FDA receives reports of illnesses associated with eating certain types of fish. These illnesses may originate from the activity of certain bacteria, toxins produced by marine algae, or hazards inherent in the fish.
To report illnesses related to miscellaneous natural toxin illnesses, consumers can email FDA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, to report an illness from raw bivalve molluscan shellfish, consumers can email FDA at email@example.com.
In addition, FDA is currently collecting meal remnants from patients diagnosed with seafood-related diseases to confirm the causative species and research the causative agent(s).
- A meal remnant is defined by FDA as any remaining edible portion of the fish, cooked or uncooked, from the exact fish consumed for the illness event.
- Any meal remnants should be frozen immediately and should not be eaten by anyone else. The meal remnants should be provided to healthcare providers or state/local public health authorities. The healthcare providers or state/local authorities will contact their local FDA District Office to coordinate submission of the remnants for analysis if deemed appropriate.
- The epidemiological information collected will help as part of a surveillance effort to confirm the sources of illnesses, characterize the responsible toxins, develop testing methodologies (where appropriate), and determine if development and/or refinement of controls for the toxins are warranted. In addition, a better understanding of long-term effects on the patient may be gained. The information gained from this work may assist FDA in its partnerships with state and local public health departments to reduce future occurrences.
FDA collects meal remnants and epidemiological information, when available, to expand its knowledge and information database to better understand these illnesses. This data is important to improving understanding of the sources of illnesses and helps FDA learn more about the epidemiology and science of these illnesses.