Euphoria Fancy Food of Brooklyn, New York, has recalled some preserved herring after state inspectors found it wasn't "properly eviscerated prior to processing," according to a release posted online by the Food and Drug Administration.
Something about euphoria and fish viscera didn't quite compute.
Turns out the guts of fish can be contaminated with spores of Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that produces a potent toxin. And that's the stuff that can lead to botulism, as two people who tasted spoiled potato soup a few months ago found out.
So removing fish guts before processing is a must-do to reduce the risk of botulism. As the FDA explains in guidance to the seafood industry:
Because spores are known to be present in the viscera, any product that will be preserved by salting, drying, pickling, or fermentation should be eviscerated prior to processing.... Without evisceration, toxin formation is possible during the process, even with strict control of temperature.
In the Euphoria case, the recalled fish is "Herring Special Salting" from Russia. It's packaged in 48.58 ounce plastic containers. The fish was sold in New York State. No illnesses have been reported from the food, Euphoria said. Don't eat it, if you come across it, though.
Shots talked with Euphoria's Vera Itzakova. "There's nothing wrong with this fish," she said. "By American standards, this is different," referring to the way it was prepared. Still, she said the fish isn't being sold anymore. But any risks from the herring haven't fazed her. "I eat it myself," she told Shots, pointing out that she is still alive and kicking.