WTF Is Wrong with All Our Tuna Fish?
There have been three different canned tuna fish recalls this past month. What's going on?
On March 16, canned tuna fish company Bumble Bee issued a voluntary product recall for a range of its products, including three variations of its Chunk Light tuna, due to a cleanliness issue in a third-party facility where Bumble Bee is packaged. While the company adds that no illness has been reported to date-it's just a precautionary measure-consider those cans tossed. (Related: 4 Reasons Fish Should Be a Staple In Your Diet.)
The very next day, unaffiliated tuna fish company Chicken of the Sea (oh hai Jessica Simpson!) filed a similar recall for a variety of their own cans. Again, equipment malfunctions were cited. (Uh, Is That Really Tuna You're Eating?)
When SHAPE reached out to Chicken of the Sea, a rep did indeed verify that the two aforementioned recalls are tied together. Chicken of the Sea issued us the following statement: "The Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee products in question were produced in the Chicken of the Sea plant in Lyons, Georgia as part of a co-packing agreement between the two companies. Agreements such as this are common among manufacturers. That said, at Chicken of the Sea we hold ourselves to the highest standards, and the health and safety of consumers is of utmost importance. To that end, we moved swiftly as soon as an issue was discovered to have products removed from store shelves. The recall was issued as a precautionary measure." Specifically, the cans were not thermally processed correctly, which can lead to potentially undercooked or under-sterilized fish, Chicken of the Sea added.
And then the following day, March 18, a third company issued a canned tuna recall. This time, it was Hill Country Fare of H-E-B in Texas. Their reason? "The product, produced at a co-packer, may have been undercooked due to an equipment malfunction, which was uncovered during a routine inspection. These deviations were part of the commercial sterilization process and could result in contamination by spoilage organisms or pathogens, which could lead to life-threatening illness if consumed."
According to reps for Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea, the issues are now resolved, but there's still more to learn with regard to Hill Country Fare. In general, though, it's fine to eat tuna fish, according to a spokeswoman for the FDA. The key is to check the date and UPC code found on the can against the ones listed on the press releases. If they don't match, you're good to go; feel free to make a tuna sandwich for lunch tomorrow. (Still want to branch out? Try these Eco-Friendly Fish Recipes Using Small Fish.)