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Dave's Sushi responds to MTN questions one year after fatal morel mushroom-related illness outbreak

Dave's Sushi
Posted at 5:33 PM, Apr 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-19 14:29:16-04

BOZEMAN — It's been a year since Dave's Sushi was forced to close by the Gallatin City-County Health Department due to an illness outbreak related to morel mushrooms served at the restaurant that resulted in the deaths of two people.

MTN News posed several questions to Dave's Sushi about the incident and what's changed in the year since it happened. The questions and full responses from Dave's Sushi are below:

What is your primary objective now at Dave’s?

To continue providing an outstanding experience for our guests, while keeping our loyal staff employed.

What do you say to people who say you have not been accountable for the illnesses and deaths?

Because this is a litigious matter, there are things that we wish we could express that we have been strongly advised against at this time. We have been fully transparent with this investigation since it begun. All of this is documented and has been released to the public. We immediately disclosed all details to the Gallatin City County Health Department, including the cooking methods used to prepare the morel mushrooms.

What has changed for you since last year?

We have implemented Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) extensively in our kitchen. Our entire kitchen management team is ServSafe Manager certified. We have also implemented extensive food and environmental safety measures, testing, and monitoring.

Do you believe it is safe to eat at Dave’s?

We do. Our staff eats at Dave’s every day when working and on our days off. We feel safe feeding our family and friends at Dave’s. We are confident that’s Dave’s Sushi has never been a safer place for our community to eat.

Why did you decide to reopen Dave’s?  

We had over 100 employees who depended on their income from Dave’s to support themselves and their families. When the health department determined that it was safe for us to reopen, it was our priority to get our staff back to work.

Is there anything else you would want people to know?

We hope that other retailers and restaurants that plan on continuing to distribute and prepare morel mushrooms educate their clients and consumers that these mushrooms are not fully understood. We understand from the case control study performed that the morel mushrooms served at Dave’s being undercooked contributed to a greater likelihood of people becoming ill from their consumption. There are numerous reports of people becoming ill, in some cases fatally, from eating cooked morel mushrooms. We are grateful that The CDC and FDA have both released their first and only publicized guidelines on morel mushrooms, stating “Consumers should eat morel and other wild-type mushrooms at their own risk. Properly preparing and cooking morel mushrooms can reduce risk of illness, however there is no guarantee of safety even if cooking steps are taken prior to consumption.” If you’re new to eating morel mushrooms, only consume a small amount and wait to see how your body reacts. When cooking morel mushrooms, ensure that it is done in a well ventilated area as the off-gassing of hydrazine that is being cooked out of the mushrooms can make people ill. We hope that this information is distributed with morel mushrooms in hopes that a tragedy such as this is prevented from happening again. We feel awful about this outbreak, especially for the individuals and families affected from consuming the morel mushrooms at Dave’s Sushi.