Officials can’t pinpoint cause of illness outbreak tied to sushi sold at 2 Concord Harris Teeters

CONCORD, N.C. — An illness outbreak tied to sushi sold at two Concord Harris Teeter stores is over, according to the Cabarrus Health Alliance.

More than 160 people got sick after eating sushi from the third-party AFC Sushi kiosk located inside the Harris Teeter stores on George W. Liles Parkway and Concord Parkway North.

CHA’s Communicable Disease Department began working with LabCorp last month to collect samples from some of the people who were ill. On Friday, officials said all samples and specimen were tested for a broad range of pathogens. The results from the six samples returned negative, so they were unable to pinpoint what was causing the illnesses.

Staff believe the negative results could be because the pathogen had already been through two incubation cycles at the time of collection, and were no longer active at a level that could be detected in laboratory testing.

“The collection of food and specimen samples did not align with the incubation cycles, which resulted in the cause of this food borne outbreak to be inconclusive.” said CHA Environmental Health Director Chrystal Swinger.

According to CHA, the outbreak is considered to be over because there have been no reported illnesses since Dec. 1

Officials reported on Nov. 24 that 128 people from at least 85 households got sick between Nov. 13 and Nov. 19. Initially, officials said they were aware of at least 10 people who were sick from eating the sushi.

Officials said many of the people were experiencing symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, fever, muscle aches and abdominal cramps.

Danielle Frazier contacted Channel 9 with a similar experience. She said she bought sushi from a Harris Teeter location in Charlotte in the same timeframe and felt sick for a while.

“It was non-stop for about a week straight. It was to the point to where I couldn’t eat or drink for a week,” Frazier said.

She said the sushi was the last thing she ate before becoming so sick that she had to go to the hospital twice.

“They told me that because I had diarrhea for so long that I had an infection in my colon,” Frazier said.

She said she is doing a lot better now and wants people to be safe.

Officials said they used loyalty card transaction data to identify and notify 429 households that purchased sushi products at the Concord locations during the timeframe.

CHA said they released the information out of an abundance of caution because 107 other sushi transactions were made without a loyalty card.

“We are encouraging anyone who purchased sushi from the George W. Liles or the Concord Parkway Harris Teeter between Nov. 13 and Nov. 19, to throw away any purchased items or leftovers,” said Chrystal Swinger, CHA Environmental Health Director.

“Committed to the quality of its products and the safety of its customers, Harris Teeter removed and discarded all sushi products from the two stores,” said Danna Robinson, communication manager for Harris Teeter. “The departments have undergone a thorough deep cleaning and sanitation. We have reopened following inspection and approval by Cabarrus Health Alliance.”

At this point, the company and the Mecklenburg County Health Department haven’t confirmed any other cases tied to locations other than the two in Concord.

The George W. Liles Parkway location suspended sushi production and sales.

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