ROCKLEIGH, N.J., Aug. 25, 2016 (PRNewswire) — True World Foods, a major seafood distributor based in New Jersey, has been exonerated in the hepatitis A outbreak that has sickened more than 200 people in Hawaii this summer. Initial reports of the company's involvement were withdrawn when the Hawaii Department of Health discovered that the raw Sea Port Bay Scallops that caused the outbreak at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai were supplied by another distributor.
True World Foods purchases Sea Port Bay Scallops but had not yet shipped the affected lots from its warehouse. "The scallops received by True World Foods have not been distributed to any restaurants in the state and were embargoed at their warehouse," according to the Hawaii Department of Health's website.
True World Foods Hawaii is in the process of destroying the suspect scallops from the Philippines under the supervision of the FDA. None of the scallops at True World Foods' 22 other warehouses in the U.S. come from the lots implicated in the outbreak. Nevertheless, the company has suspended the sale of any seafood products produced by the scallops supplier in the Philippines pending the completion of an internal food safety investigation.
The contaminated scallops were wild-caught in the Philippines and processed by De Oro Resources Incorporated, which is located in Suba Basbas, Philippines. They were imported by Sea Port Products Corporation, located in Washington State, in raw frozen form. Sea Port has been in business for more than three decades and is a major seafood supplier.
The specific source of the contamination is unknown but likely occurred before either True World Foods or the other distributor received the scallops, given that the product arrives in sealed packages that are case-packed in a freezer and receive no further processing at the distributor site.
Regardless of the source, the hepatitis A outbreak would not have occurred if the scallops had been cooked to a temperature of 185°F rather than served raw.
"This incident marks the first time in our 38-year history that seafood distributed by True World Foods has been linked to hepatitis A contamination, despite the fact that we sold 34 million pounds of seafood last year," said Robert Bleu, President of True World Foods. "Food safety is a top priority at our company, and we are continually monitoring our suppliers, processes and procedures to protect the health of every consumer who eats at any of our customer sites."
About True World Foods
True World Foods is a seafood wholesaler that supplies thousands of restaurants, hotels, country clubs, cruise ships and specialty retail markets in North America and Europe. With nearly four decades as a trusted source of quality fresh and frozen seafood, the company has more than two dozen independent locations in the U.S. and Canada as well as distribution centers in London and Madrid. It also sells non-seafood items, fresh produce, gourmet meats, dry grocery products, and full line of restaurant tools, supplies, tableware and equipment. For more information, visit www.trueworldfoods.com.