WASHINGTON - US health authorities issued a strong warning Thursday against imported shellfish in all forms from South Korea, saying it could be contaminated with human feces and the norovirus because the shellfish came from polluted waters.
The Food and Drug Administration "urged" food distributors, retailers, and food service operators to pull from sale or distribution all fresh, frozen, canned and processed oysters, clams, mussels and scallops imported from South Korea.
"These products and any products made with them may have been exposed to human fecal waste and are potentially contaminated with norovirus," a highly contagious stomach and intestinal virus, the FDA said.
"A comprehensive FDA evaluation determined that the Korean Shellfish Sanitation Program no longer meets the sanitation controls" required by the Untied States.
The FDA said it had made initial notifications of food companies on the threat on May 1, and some had begun to pull the products from the food chain.
It included canned products, saying that although the heat treatment that canned products undergo should eliminate the risk of norovirus, "the contents of the cans of molluscan shellfish from Korea are still considered not fit for human food because the products were harvested from waters subject to human fecal contamination."
The FDA said there had been Korea shellfish-related norovirus cases in 2011, none had been reported yet this year.
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