Dave’s Sushi, the restaurant that was ordered to close on April 20, because of an outbreak investigation, has had its closure order rescinded. The Gallatin City County Health Department announced that food samples collected from the establishment, including salmon and morel mushrooms, have all tested negative for pathogens and toxins.

The investigation into the outbreak, which affected 50 individuals and resulted in three severe outcomes and two deaths, is still ongoing. The collaborative effort between the Gallatin City County Health Department, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aims to identify the specific source of the outbreak. However, pinpointing a particular pathogen or toxin as the cause has proved challenging.

Preliminary findings from an epidemiological study conducted by the health department, CDC, and DPHHS suggest that the morel mushrooms served at Dave’s Sushi were the probable cause of the outbreak. Other menu items that did not contain morel mushrooms were not associated with illness. According to the Gallatin City-County Health Department, Dave’s Sushi has discarded all morel mushrooms and other food inventory, and violations identified during the April 18 inspection have been addressed.

On May 17, the Gallatin City County Health Officer lifted the closure order, stating that no imminent health hazard prevents the restaurant from reopening. However, a new Health Officer Order has been instituted, outlining specific corrective actions that Dave’s Sushi must complete before resuming food service.

The corrective actions include:

  • Providing the health department with specific standard operating procedures, including procedures for addressing biological toxins
  • Mandatory staff training for all food handlers and management staff
  • Providing the names of the staff member(s) who have supervisory and management authority to the Health Department
  • Successfully passing required inspections, and providing a fresh food inventory

Dave’s Sushi will be allowed to reopen once all required corrective actions have been fulfilled. Gallatin City County Health Officer Lori Christenson expressed the commitment to continue working with state and federal partners on the investigation.

“Foodborne illness outbreaks are a serious public health concern. We remain committed to working with our state and federal partners on further investigational activities and remain deeply saddened for all those affected by this outbreak,” said Christenson. “The Health Department and Dave’s Sushi took prompt action to reduce the possibility of new illnesses by closing the restaurant during the detailed investigative work. A foodborne illness outbreak can be disruptive, frustrating, feel scary, and, most tragically, result in death or severe injury. With the findings from the preliminary analysis pointing towards the morel mushrooms and required actions Dave’s Sushi must take prior to reopening, there is no known public health reason for the establishment to stay closed.”

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