(Updated with response from Dave's Sushi, 5:34 p.m. ) Dave's Sushi announced in a media release Wednesday the restaurant plans to reopen after the Gallatin City-County Health Department completes its investigation on May 15.
Aaron Parker, owner of Dave’s Sushi, told MTN News the restaurant will “follow and exceed health safety standards” upon reopening.
When asked about his personal feelings regarding the situation, Parker said, “It’s not about me, it’s about the community and our employees and keeping our community safe.”
Here is the full statement from Dave's Sushi in response to the update from the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services on its investigation into possible foodborne illness linked to the restaurant:
The Gallatin City-County Health Department released a statement dated May 3, 2023, noting that they and other local, state, and federal agencies are continuing to investigate the foodborne illness outbreak and acknowledging that the investigation may be unable to identify a specific pathogen. However, as noted in the release, “Preliminary investigative findings indicate that food containing morel mushrooms may be the exposure of concern.”
No matter the circumstances or the findings, our hearts go out to the loved ones of the two people who passed away and to all who have been impacted.
Upon being contacted by guests on Mon, April 17 about a potential issue, we stopped serving the morel mushrooms which were a specialty food item not on our regular menu and contacted the Gallatin City-County Health Department.
After we reported to the health department that several of our guests had contacted us on Mon, April 17, we were inspected by the health department on Tues, April 18. We immediately addressed the findings in their health inspection report, none of which are believed to be related to the Gallatin City-County Health Department’s current investigation.
The FDA-inspected morel mushrooms were purchased in two separate batches from a California distributor, as described by the Gallatin City-County Health Department in their May 3rd release: “The DPHHS investigation has determined that the morel mushrooms served at the restaurant were not distributed to any other restaurants or businesses in Montana. The mushrooms were cultivated in China, shipped to a distributor in California, and subsequently sent to multiple states. There are no known associated illnesses in other states identified at this time.”
We have been fully cooperating with the Gallatin City-County Health Department. Health and safety has always been a top priority for us. To continue that commitment, we’ve hired a sanitarian consultant, formerly with the Gallatin City-County Health Department, to fully and thoroughly inspect our restaurant and conduct extensive food safety updates for our staff.
We’re also ensuring that our staff are fully compensated until we reopen, including wages and estimated gratuities. We expect to reopen after Mon, May 15, once the health department has completed their study.
Moving forward, we want to bring attention to the potential risks of incorporating morel mushrooms in recipes. Our goal is to help prevent a situation like this from happening again to anyone.
Please contact us with any questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, Dave’s Sushi
(First Report) The Gallatin City-County Health Department and the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) say they are continuing to work with other health departments and federal agencies to investigate the foodborne illness outbreak linked to eating at Dave’s Sushi.
DPHHS and the health department said in a press release the investigation is ongoing and may not be able to identify a specific pathogen as the source of the outbreak. The outbreak reportedly appears to be isolated to people who at Dave’s Sushi between March 31 and April 17, 2023. At least 30 people have been identified in association with the outbreak who ate at Dave’s during this time frame.
The release said three people had severe outcomes, including hospitalizations, and two deaths are being investigated in connection with eating at Dave's between March 31 and April 17. Until autopsy and toxicology results are available, the manner and cause of death of these two people will remain pending.
The people identified by the investigation thus far reportedly became sick within 30 minutes to 4.5 hours after eating at Dave's.
Officials say preliminary investigative findings point to food containing morel mushrooms as the possible exposure of concern. At this time, no pathogens or toxins have been identified. State and federal partners continue to test clinical and food samples.
DPHHS says the mushrooms were cultivated in China, shipped to a distributor in California, then sent to multiple states. There are no known associated illnesses in other states identified at this time, and the mushrooms were not shipped to other restaurants or businesses in Montana.
Dave's Sushi remains closed, and officials say there does not appear to be any further risk to the public.
According to DPHHS epidemiologist Rachel Hinnenkamp of the Communicable Disease and Epidemiology Section, DPHHS is "working closely with federal partners assisting with this investigation, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration."
DPHHS recommends individuals who experienced illness after eating at Dave’s between March 31 and April 17 to call and report their symptoms to their local health department.
DPHHS also shared the following information:
Health officials say that anyone can get sick from eating contaminated food. The CDC estimates that each year in the United States 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Additionally, certain groups are more likely to get sick and have a more serious illness. These groups include adults over the age of 65, children younger than 5 years, people with weakened immune systems, and those that are pregnant. It is recommended to take proper precautions – clean, separate, cook, and chill – when preparing food.
More information is available at the CDC's Foodborne Germs and Illnesses web page.
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