FDA bans Korean molluscan shellfish from US market

HONOLULU — State and federal officials are warning distributors, retailers and food establishments that it is illegal and unsafe to sell any Korean molluscan shellfish. Noncompliance could bring hefty fines.

Korean molluscan shellfish include oysters, clams, mussels and whole/roe-on scallops (fresh, frozen, shucked, in the shell, whole or in part).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has removed all Korean certified shippers from the Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List effective May 1 and considers all fresh and fresh-frozen molluscan shellfish from Korea, and products made from them — including frozen breaded shellfish — contaminated and from an unapproved source, the State of Hawai‘i Department of Health reports.

The ban was prompted by reported unacceptable pollution levels found in Korea’s shellfish-farming areas and consistent detection of norovirus, which is highly contagious but usually non life-threatening.

The virus causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Symptons include stomach pain, diarrhea, low fever, head and body aches, fatigue, vomiting and chills.

The FDA also considers all Korean molluscan shellfish purchased before, on or after May 1 to be unfit for human consumption and therefore should not be served, distributed or sold.

The DOH is reminding all food operators that molluscan shellfish served or sold to consumers must be obtained from an approved source. Any food establishment found selling, holding for sale, or distributing Korean molluscan shellfish and/or products made with Korean molluscan shellfish is in violation of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Section 328-6 and is subject to possible fines of $10.000 a day per violation.

Contact State Shellfish Control Authority Lori Nagatoshi at 808-586-4725 for more information.



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