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Health Department shares final report on foodborne illness linked to morel mushrooms

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Posted at 12:17 PM, Jul 19, 2023

The Gallatin City-County Health Department and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services released their final report regarding the foodborne illness outbreak linked to morel mushrooms.

The report says 50 people reported becoming ill after eating at Dave’s Sushi and those who reported an illness say they felt sick about three hours after eating the the restaurant. GCCHD and DPHHS worked with the FDA to perform testing on food samples. DNA sequencing on the morel mushroom samples identified the species as Morchella Sextelata, a true morel.

The study found that based on what people ate at the restaurant, morel mushrooms were “strongly associated with developing a GI illness”. CDC analysis compared illnesses from people eating at Dave's on April 8 and April 17. On April 8, the morel mushrooms reportedly underwent some cooking process of being marinated in a sauce immediately after the sauce had been boiled. On April 17, the mushrooms were reportedly uncooked and marinated in a sauce that had not been boiled. Illness associated with consuming the morel mushrooms was reported on both dates, however, consumption of morels was more strongly associated with developing illness on April 17 when the morels were reportedly prepared without any cooking process.

The report also points out that restaurants in different states received morel mushrooms from the same supplier as Dave’s. Those restaurants were contacted and said they cooked or sauteed their mushrooms and reported no complaints.

The investigation found that based on the illness that people reported, it could be consistent with morel mushrooms not being properly handled, prepared, or cooked. Public Health Officials say to use caution when eating morel mushrooms.

Officials say anyone eating, selling, or serving morel mushrooms should use caution. Using proper preparation techniques, including cooking, can help reduce toxicity and risk of illness when consuming mushrooms.

Morels should be refrigerated at 40 degrees or below, in breathable packaging like a paper bag. Morels should also be cooked thoroughly prior to consumption to reduce toxin levels, according to health officials.

Officials say there is no further risk to the public for illness associated with the outbreak. To read the full report, visit https://www.healthygallatin.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Report_FinalSummary_FBIOutbreak_7.19.2023-Final.pdf.

Individuals who become ill after consuming morels should contact their healthcare provider immediately and call the Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

Related:
Broadwater County Sheriff and Coroner: Man dies morning after eating at Dave's Sushi
Health department rescinds Dave’s Sushi closure order, lays out requirements to reopen, updates investigation
Dave's Sushi welcoming customers again, morel mushrooms off the menu