Dozens fall ill at teen's sushi restaurant birthday bash, but raw fish may not be to blame

03:40 12.09.2023

Eleven 13-year-olds were rushed to the hospital on Saturday after suffering from food poisoning following a birthday lunch at Kumo Sushi and Steakhouse, a popular restaurant near Stony Brook University, according to New York health officials. The victims, all members of a competitive dance team, are now dealing with anxiety and lingering stomach pain, and are concerned about their ability to participate in their next competition. The mother of the birthday girl, Arial Arias, stated that the common factor among the meals ordered by the girls was rice. Although they had different main dishes such as chicken, beef, and vegetables, all the meals came with rice.

Eyewitnesses described a distressing scene, with victims experiencing "projectile vomiting" both inside and outside the restaurant. Interestingly, Arias and other parents who sat at the bar and ordered seafood did not suffer any illness. Arias clarified that the sickness was not due to the sushi, but rather from the hibachi-style cooking. "It was like the opposite of what you would have thought," she said. The group had sat down to eat around 2 p.m. and were all sick before 4 p.m.

Initially, the birthday girl wanted to go to a nearby Italian restaurant, but Arias convinced her to choose Kumo Sushi and Steakhouse for a more memorable experience. Unfortunately, their meal turned into a nightmare. In addition to the 11 teens, over a dozen people from another table also fell ill, including a pregnant woman and an elderly individual. According to Arias, the other group had been vomiting in the bathroom before their arrival, causing the girls to become anxious.

Following the incident, 12 people were taken to the hospital, and a total of 28 individuals reported various symptoms. Suffolk County health officials cited the restaurant for 15 alleged violations. Health investigators suspect that the restaurant's refrigerator may have been damaged. The investigation is ongoing, and authorities are currently conducting interviews to gather more information.

Jory Lange, a national attorney specializing in food poisoning cases, mentioned that the quick onset of symptoms and the fact that all victims ate rice suggest that the bacteria responsible may be bacillus cereus. This bacteria is commonly found in uncooked rice and becomes harmful when cooked rice is left at room temperature. The spores of bacillus cereus release toxins that can cause food poisoning.

The owners of Kumo Sushi and Steakhouse, Tony and Bobby Lam, expressed thanks to first responders and health officials, assuring customers that they are working diligently to regain their trust. They emphasized their commitment to learning from the incident and enhancing safety practices to ensure a memorable and safe dining experience.

Meanwhile, the victims may be entitled to legal claims for expenses such as medical bills and lost wages, according to Lange. He urged anyone experiencing food poisoning symptoms to seek medical attention. Arias shared that her daughter is still refusing to eat and is now wary of dining out. She described the experience as traumatic and mentioned that next year, she might cook at home for her daughter's birthday instead.

/ Tuesday, September 12, 2023, 3:40 AM /

themes:  New York (state)

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