FDA Memo: Sushi Salmonella Suspected Of Sickening 90

According to an internal memo that was sent around the Food and Drug Administration offices, a salmonella outbreak that’s spread throughout sushi restaurants in 19 states and the District of Columbia could be responsible for making at least 90 people sick. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating the outbreak, which has sent seven people to the hospital.

MSNBC reports spicy tuna rolls are the chief culprit according to preliminary findings. The strain of salmonella associated with the illnesses is Salmonella Bareilly, which can cause symptoms that include vomiting, headaches, fever and chills.

Reports of illness have come mostly from the eastern half of the United States, including Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin.

Salmonella in sushi may have sickened 90 [MSNBC]


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  1. rpm773 says:

    It would be ironic if the source was the cucumbers in the California rolls…

  2. The Porkchop Express says:

    Why? now I have to wait for this to all clear over before I can get sushi.

    and Why the spicy tuna rolls? what ingredient is in there that places in those states all use from the same supplier?

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      While fish can rot, maybe it’s the mayo that I usually find in the spicy sauce that helps promote bacterial growth?

      Anyway, I’m middle-aged and not immunocompromised, so I’m OK with risking it myself.

      • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

        A lot of rolls have mayo in it. Mayonnaise requires raw eggs in production, but most manufactured mayo is pasteurized afterwords, or made with pasteurized raw eggs (which sounds like a contradiction, but Alton Brown insists they exist, although I’ve never seen them).

        More likely, IMO, is that there is some premade “spicy mayo” sauce (basically, mayo and crushed red pepper) that was distributed to restaurants around the nation that are tainted.

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          Didn’t think about the mayo involved in the roll.

        • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

          Good point…my thought was that tuna is too common in sushi for it just to cause problems in the spicy roll, although that might be the most popular way to serve tuna. I think your idea is a very good one, and I’m guessing it’s probably pretty close to the truth.

    • castlecraver says:

      The official report expresses suspicion that the spicy tuna rolls were the culprit, but emphasizes there is little certainty in that preliminary speculation at this point. It’s possible a large percentage of the sick people reported eating spicy tuna rolls just because they’re among the more popular items at sushi places (and the roughly chopped tuna ends up in a lot of different rolls anyway).

      Incidentally, if it does turn out to be spicy tuna rolls, the culprit may as easily be the mayonnaise used in the sauce rather than the tuna. That is, if they favor a creamier texture and use that particular recipe for the spicy sauce, which is fairly common here.

  3. Cat says:

    Eating raw fish: Not a good idea.

    If you’ve owned an aquarium and a microscope at the same time, you would understand.

    • Auron says:

      I can’t believe people re still ignorant about this. Sushi is not always made with raw fish. Sushi refers to how the rice is prepared. Sashimi is raw fish.

      • elangomatt says:

        You are absolutely correct, but in all fairness in this case, I would most suspect the raw fish being the contaminate since that is most likely the least processed part of a spicy tuna roll. The tuna could also all come from the same supplier pretty easily I bet.

        • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

          You can get lots of things from tainted fish, but you can’t get salmonella from it unless there was some cross-contamination action.

        • Sian says:

          more likely: the cucumber that’s chopped into little sticks and goes into nearly all spicy tuna rolls.

          • elangomatt says:

            Do the cucumber sticks come into the shop precut? I always picture some guy in the back peeling the cucumbers and cutting them into match sticks on the premises. If it is done on the premises, then I doubt the contamination is from the cucumber unless they are cross contaminating with dirty cutting boards and/or knives. If the cucumber comes in pre-cut, then that very well could be the source of the contamination, though I don’t know why they would point the finger at the spicy tuna rolls specifically since the cucumber sticks go into a lot of different types of rolls.

      • chefboyardee says:

        Also, most people don’t know that sushi isn’t “sophisticated”. It’s actually peasant food.


        • penuspenuspenus says:

          And in Kuala Lumpur TGIFridays is considered fancy dining. Different dining experiences with the same shit.

    • suez says:

      Right. Go enjoy your pink slime hamburger. ;^P

    • castlecraver says:

      Sushi, when handled and prepared properly, is no more dangerous than most other food (including cooked fish).

      If you had a degree in Microbiology (and a basic awareness that a home aquarium is not an adequate model for open water or a salmon farm), you would understand.

      • Cat says:

        Perhaps being a fry cook making fish fries would qualify me to make this statement?

        Trust me. You don’t know…

        • castlecraver says:

          That’s cute. And perhaps actually holding a degree in Microbiology and years studying, making, and eating sushi as a hobby might qualify me to make a better-informed statement than yours?

          Few things are more dangerous and irritating than an imbecile who earnestly believes he’s well-informed. You have no clue.

          Get back on the fryer, the onion rings are done.

          • NORMLgirl says:

            Perhaps holding both BS and MS degrees in Food Technology as well as preparing sushi (raw and cooked) as a hobby might qualify me to make the statement that castlecraver is a bag o’ dicks.

            Nah, I believe it is obvious even to the fry cooks and patty flippers out there.

            • Cat says:

              Some of us also had to work to pay for our piece of paper. That doesn’t make you as dumb as a sponge.

              • The Porkchop Express says:

                to be fair, Spongebob is probably a better fry cook than any cat.

                I agree with both you guys though. Most raw fish = nasty stuff (also worked the fryer and had an aquarium) but for the most part sushi grade stuff is handled very well and frozen to help get rid of most bad things.

              • NORMLgirl says:

                I served tables at Cracker Barrel while working for my piece of paper. It was awful. However, as a result of this job, I met my future husband (a former fry cook!)

          • Cat says:

            So the worms crawling out of the fish were in my imagination, right? I suppose a degree in microbiology would make them go away.

            Few things are more dangerous and irritating than an imbecile who earnestly believes a piece of paper make him superior. You have no clue.

            • castlecraver says:

              From where did you source your fish? What kind of fish was it? How was it transported and stored? One would need to know this information when evaluating the relevance of your anecdotal evidence to sushi preparation and consumption.

              I saw a bad car wreck once. Someone died. Therefore all cars are unacceptably dangerous.

            • Jawaka says:

              I think that it has a little more to do with the years of school and studying that was required to get the little piece of paper than the paper itself.

            • little stripes says:

              Yep! Your one experience at a shitty restaurant that got shitty, far from fresh fish totally means all fish is full of worms! Yep! That’s logical!

              Really? You have got to be kidding me.

            • webweazel says:

              “So the worms crawling out of the fish were in my imagination, right? I suppose a degree in microbiology would make them go away.”

              I’m a fishing freak and a sushi fan and this is how I understand it. A good amount of fish have a parasite. It usually resides around the spine length of the fish and do look like tiny worms, and doesn’t affect the fish itself. They are totally harmless to humans although unappealing. Cooking kills them, and so does prolonged freezing. The process that changes a piece of, let’s say, salmon to sushi-grade fish that can be eaten raw is a special super-low-temperature freezing process where the fish is flash-frozen to a very low temperature for a specific period of time. (Home freezers cannot reach the proper low enough temperature.) This kills off the parasite. It’s still THERE, just now dead. So, yeah, fish have parasites/worms. They’re generally not an issue, albeit gross to see.

        • little stripes says:

          Wait. I thought you knew everything about fish, since you were a fish-fry.

          But it’s clear that you don’t know that the fish you fried with WAS NOT the same grade as sushi fish.

          You’re just not that bright, are you?

      • Coelacanth says:

        To elaborate more upon the theme of taking a microscope to an aquarium:

        Just to be sure, I’ve asked a few doctors about any possible dangers of regularly eating sushi. (I’ve been eating sushi from reputable restaurants anywhere between once and twice a week for the last several years.)

        Pretty much from what most medical professionals have said, humans are generally a dead-end host to any left-over parasites which might happen to be found in sushi-grade fish.

        So while there might be a risk, it’s very small. Doctors seemed more concerned about possible organo-mercuriy toxicity with consuming large amounts of fish than about microbial contamination.

        (In short, the natural defenses conferred by our digestive tract and immune system are pretty outstanding for most people…)

    • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

      Normally I wear protection, but then I thought, “When am I gonna make it back to Haiti?”

  4. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Hmmm…perhaps it was undercooked.

  5. KyBash says:

    What can you expect when you eat bait?

  6. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    Now if they had just eaten pink slime they would have been fine.

  7. XianZomby says:

    This week I’m in a cheap hotel near the Grand Ole Oprey in Nashville for a conference. Near my hotel is a tourist spot featuring go-cart track, put-put golf course, video game room, and sushi bar. I am skeptical of sushi made by carnies.

  8. dulcinea47 says:

    Are these people eating mass produced sushi, somehow? Mass produced sushi sounds like a very, very, very bad thing.

  9. Wes_Sabi says:

    Neither this pic nor the one on the MSNBC page show spicy tuna rolls.

  10. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    They put the salmon in salmonella!

  11. ElBobulo says:

    I was under the impression that all sushi is frozen to a very cold temp (below 0F) in order to kill any bad living things.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Doesn’t work that way. You’d have to cook it to kill the nasty things. Also, if you freeze and then thaw fish (and other things), the texture is markedly different and you could definitely tell from a consumer standpoint that you weren’t eating “fresh” sushi/sashimi.

      I have never understood sushi/sashimi anyway. Cook your GD food.

  12. Spaghettius! says:

    I make my own spicy mayo at home.

  13. Spaghettius! says:

    .Most fish is flash frozen when caught, right? Meaning that thawed fish used for sushi has fewer living parasites than the fresh bass you caught in the ole crick.
    I’ve been eating sushi for years, and thankfully, have been incident-free.
    A bad batch of tuna or some nasty mayo could have been responsible, but I think it’s interesting that of all the recalls we’ve been hearing about lately, there’s been no recalled fish. Only bad meat and vegetables.

  14. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:


  15. Piri says:

    I actually read a study once (directly aimed at pregnant women) that you’re less likely to contract a food borne illness from sushi than you are a chicken or uncooked (aka salad) dish from a restaurant that doesn’t serve sushi. The study presumed it’s because of heightened food safety awareness in suppliers and kitchens that know they’re serving raw fish vs. possible cross contamination in a kitchen that doesn’t serve raw animal products.

    The lesson in the study was that the safest foods are foods that you’ve prepared yourself, but if you’re going to eat out you’re less likely to get sick from sushi than you are from other foods that are considered “safe”.

  16. pythonspam says:

    Sorry, but that headline doesn’t compare to the draw I now feel to eat sushi having seen the adjacent picture (of neither a spicy tuna roll nor a california roll).

  17. aleck says:

    This is obviously written by someone who has no clue about sushi. Raw tuna is a primary ingredient in a large number of sushi dishes. Yet only “spicy tuna roll” is the culprit.