Fish processor will recall salmon

BACTERIA: State finds some in sample, but further tests find none.

November 28, 2010 

FAIRBANKS -- The owner of a Fairbanks fish processing company says three samples of the same batch of smoked salmon the state deemed contaminated were tested by independent laboratories in the Lower 48 and came back negative.

But Virgil Umphenour said he will comply with the state's order for a recall of Santa's Smokehouse brand "Cajun-Style Smoked Keta Salmon."

"We're required by law to issue a recall," he said.

The fish is produced by Interior Alaska Fish Processors Inc., which is owned by Umphenour.

The fish was sold in half-pound packages between Aug. 27 and Nov. 6.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation found the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes in a batch sold at the company's retail stores.

The organism can cause serious infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. According to the DEC, it also can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Umphenour said he asked the state to retest the fish, but the DEC refused. Umphenour said he sent samples from the same batch to laboratories in California, Florida and Washington.

"They all came up negative for listeria," he said.

The negative tests raise questions about the state's testing procedures, Umphenour said.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner could not reach the DEC for comment on Friday.

No cases of illness have been reported, and only one person who bought any of the fish has returned it, Umphenour said.

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