Two individuals died and three were hospitalized after eating at Dave’s Sushi in Bozeman on April 17 and becoming ill from suspected foodborne causes related to morel mushrooms.
A recent investigation showed a strong association between consuming morel mushrooms at the restaurant and developing gastrointestinal illness. The study also showed an association between likelihood of illness and quantity of sushi consumed. Between March 28 and April 17, more than 50 individuals reported becoming sick with gastrointestinal symptoms after eating at Dave’s Sushi.
The Gallatin City-County Health Department and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services continued the outbreak investigation in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. More details are available in a summary report released by the health departments involved.
“DNA sequencing was performed on the morel mushroom samples, and identified the species as Morchella sextelata, a type of true morel,” a press release from Healthy Gallatin states.
On April 17, “consumption of morels was more strongly associated with developing illness… the morels were reportedly prepared without any cooking process [on April 17],” according to the health report.
Health authorities cautioned in the report that “Anyone eating, selling, or serving morel mushrooms should use caution when doing so” and that proper handling can reduce risk of foodborne illness.
The FDA traced the same supply of mushrooms to other restaurants in different states, none of which reported any customer complaints or illness.
“A more thorough investigation into a subset of these restaurants showed that all six of the restaurants interviewed reported cooking, sautéing, or otherwise thoroughly heating the mushrooms before serving,” the report states.
According to the report, morel mushrooms should be refrigerated at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in breathable type packaging, and should be cooked thoroughly prior to consumption, as this is likely to reduce toxin levels present in the mushrooms.
“GCCHD has been performing regular inspections of Dave’s Sushi to make sure that it continues to operate and serve the public safely. The restaurant remains cooperative with GCCHD to maintain a safe and healthy operation,” the release states. “At this time, there is no further risk to the public for illness associated with this outbreak.”