HelloFresh customers suffer food poisoning, skin rash after eating toxic fish dish

A HelloFresh customer had to visit A&E on Auckland's North Shore after suffering a very hot rash.
A HelloFresh customer had to visit A&E on Auckland's North Shore after suffering a very hot rash. Photo credit: Hello Fresh / Google Maps

Several people have gone to hospital after eating fish from meal delivery company HelloFresh.

The popular meal delivery service sent an email to customers on Monday urging customers not to eat the trevally in the coconut fish dish this week.

"Our supplier has just advised, as of Monday, November 9, 2020, there is a presence of elevated histamine levels in the 'White Fish (Trevally)' that you received this week," the email read.

"As a precautionary measure, we would advise you not to consume the product."

HelloFresh customer Olivia Bezett told Newshub her mum and her had to visit A&E on Auckland's North Shore after they both suffered a very hot rash.

"Mum and I both ate it and suddenly came up in a very hot rash, it felt like severe sunburn," she told Newshub.

"It started spreading all over our body and we also had food poisoning symptoms."

Bezett says this is the first time suffering these symptoms after eating fish.

"Mum basically lives on fish and she has never experienced this."

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) says it has received reports of people who have eaten fish from the ready-meal service becoming ill with histamine poisoning.

And three people went to Hutt Valley DHB's emergency department for medical attention after eating the fish.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Jay Harrower says the symptoms are often a combination of an allergic reaction and gastroenteritis.

Common symptoms of histamine poisoning include:

  • Tingling and burning around the mouth
  • Facial flushing
  • Diarrhoea
  • Skin rash
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Possibly respiratory distress

"Symptoms may last up to 48 hours, but don't usually result in any long term effects. The illness typically begins within 30 minutes to an hour or two of consuming the fish," Dr Harrower says.

"There are some fish varieties which are more likely to produce histamine levels that are toxic, often when the fish is not kept chilled."

HelloFresh customers reported to have only received a refund for the cost of fish, rather than the whole meal.

"I think it is terrible how you refund only the product. The cost of the whole meal should be refunded for the inconvenience at least and as an apology. Not good enough," one person commented on Newshub's Facebook page.

"Would you see a restaurant just refunding the cost of the fish if you complained it was not right?

"I just think $30 for a night of pain isn't enough!"