St. James family sickened at Kumo Japanese Steakhouse prior to weekend incident

Health Commissioner Gregson Pigott says rice was the common food that sickened 28 people Saturday.

News 12 Staff

Sep 11, 2023, 11:03 PM

Updated 275 days ago

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A St. James woman says she and her family got sick from eating at Kumo Japanese Steakhouse days before Saturday's incident that sickened 28 people.
Melisa Ennella says her family went to the restaurant to celebrate her daughter's birthday. She says four of them ate hibachi rice and got sick, forcing her kids to even miss school the next day.
"Thursday I called Kumo to let them know that we all were ill from the food, and they said that was the first they had heard of it, and they offered me a gift card but I'm not going to eat there," says Ennella.
Suffolk County Health Commissioner Gregson Pigott says rice was the common food that sickened people on Saturday. Twelve of the 28 people had to be rushed to the hospital.
Pigott says staff members from the Health Department saw trays of rice at the restaurant Saturday that were not stored at the proper temperature, leading to bacteria in the rice.
"The bacteria can secrete toxins into the rice and that process will accelerate, and you have a lot of toxin in the rice.," says Pigott. The toxin is an irritant to the stomach wall and so what happened, we think in this particular case, is that people were consuming rice that was full of this particular toxin, the name is basicllus cereus."
Kumo was cited for 15 violations but has since reopened.
John Ruggiero, an attorney for Kumo, issued a statement saying, "In the 4 ½ hours they were present, four of the most senior and experienced health inspectors inspected every aspect of the kitchen and its food-handling. They found all refrigeration in good working condition. They noted that the cooked hibachi rice was not being rapidly cooled in accordance with Suffolk County Department of Health guidelines. They reviewed those guidelines with the staff and the new procedure was immediately implemented."
Ruggiero also says the online speculation and hysteria is unfortunate and unwarranted, calling it damaging to a long-standing family business.
The health commissioner says incidents of people getting sick before Saturday were not reported to his office.


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