According to numerous press reports, several 911 calls were made around late Saturday afternoon alerting first responders to illnesses occurring at Kumo Japanese Steakhouse in Stony Brook, NY.
A Suffolk County spokesperson said a total of 28 people reported getting sick. Twelve of them were rushed to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment and were discharged.
The Suffolk Department of Health Services believes the likely culprit was “mishandled and improperly stored cooked rice that was served” at a restaurant on Nesconset Highway.
Witnesses reported that people were vomiting on scene.
The Suffolk County Health Department said the incident was a result of the restaurant mishandling and improperly storing cooked rice. Out of 15 violations issued against Kumo Japanese Steakhouse, eight were for risk factors for foodborne illness.
Improperly stored cooked rice can be a cause of food poisoning.
Uncooked rice often contains the bacteria Bacillus cereus. These bacteria can form protective spores that survive the cooking process and if the rice is cooled slowly (and left between 5 degrees C and 60 degrees C), these bacteria spores can germinate, grow and produce a toxin that causes vomiting.
Bacillus cereus is a facultatively anaerobic, toxin-producing gram-positive bacterium found in soil, vegetation and food. It commonly causes intestinal illnesses with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, it has been associated with serious infections in immunocompromised individuals and can cause septicemia as well as endophthalmitis, which can lead to vision loss.
Two types of illness have been attributed to the consumption of foods contaminated with B. cereus. The first and better known is characterized by abdominal pain and non-bloody diarrhea. It has an incubation period of 4 to 16 hours following ingestion with symptoms that last for 12-24 hours. The second, which is characterized by an acute attack of nausea and vomiting, occurs within 1 to 5 hours after consumption of contaminated food. Diarrhea is not a common feature in this type of illness.
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