ITALY- Tuna is being investigated for a possible cause of illness in at least 12 people in Italy.

The foodborne outbreak is suspected to have been caused by thawed yellowfin tuna steaks with added water from Italy and raw material from Spain.

The Tuscany local health unit (ASL) has received reports on about 9 people experiencing symptoms like fainting, loss of consciousness, vomiting and nausea.

The affected individuals who were admitted to different hospitals before later being discharged all reported having consumed tuna in diverse forms at two distinct restaurants in Florence.

Officials have visited both restaurants to ascertain the sanitary conditions, product preservation and traceability details.

Samples of the affected product were sent for chemical and bacteriological analyses.

Officials also went to the distribution center in Florence that supplied the two restaurants and put on hold goods related to the lot potentially involved.

Suspicion of nitrite use

Authorities in Florence have also noted a similar case in a person who consumed tuna in a restaurant in the town of Portoferraio.

Local media in the city of Brindisi reported that a family consisting of both parents and two children aged 10 and 11 years old became ill after eating fish.

The Italian Ministry of Health (Ministro della Salute) has proclaimed a recall of six lots of thawed yellowfin tuna steaks with added water that were packed by Ittica Zu Pietro SRL.

The recall notice indicates that nitrites or nitrates existence were found by authorities in one batch yet their use as food additives in tuna to alter the color of fish products is not authorized in Europe.

Authorities urged people not to consume the affected products and revert them to the point of sale or to health authorities.

According to the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) portal. ed, Tuna was also distributed to Croatia, Poland, Romania and Slovenia,

In 2017 more than 150 people were affected as a result of illegally treated Tuna consumption.

In 2018 another incidence of Tuna related illness was reported where canned Tuna was illegally treated with vegetable extracts containing a high nitrite concentration.

This gave an impression of freshness thus presenting a health risk due to possible histamine development.