ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) - The Pham family is trying to forget what happened at their large Father's Day celebration Saturday in Central Texas.
They prepared their own sushi with raw salmon purchased the same day at the H-E-B in Round Rock at State Highway 45 and Greenlawn Boulevard.
"My niece came in here, and she was eating one of the few pieces of sushi we had left on the plate and said, 'Ew, something feels funny,'" said Nichol Pham. "She pulled something out of her mouth, and it looked like a string."
When they looked closer, the string was moving. When they looked at the rest of the salmon, they could see more tiny worms covering the fish.
Pham said 23 people ate the salmon and felt sick the next day. Half of them were children, all cousins, ages 2 to 12.
"We've vomited, have diarrhea, stomach aching," said Pham. "My stomach is still aching today."
She said they went back to H-E-B that night to talk to a manager who offered a refund.
"We explained to him: 'We don't want a refund. We've already ingested this into our bodies,'" said Pham. "Common sense to me: You pull it off the shelf until you find out what's wrong with your fish."
Then she contacted the Williamson County Health Department. A spokesperson for the department told KXAN News they are investigating and will be looking into how the product was handled at the market and how it was handled after the purchase.
Carol Huntsberger, owner of Quality Seafood Market , said salmon carries a lot of parasites and worms -- though they are rarely seen at a store.
There are only two ways to kill them: cooking the fish thoroughly or freezing raw salmon through a process mandated by law at minus 4 degrees for 168 hours, which is about seven days.
"It kills the parasites. It kills the worms, and it makes sure it's safe to eat," said Huntsberger.
H-E-B emailed the following statement:
"H-E-B is committed to absolutely safe food. We discourage the consumption of raw or undercooked seafood unless it is prepared and handled according to FDA specifications.
"We encourage all consumers to practice safe food handling when preparing sushi with raw fish. For additional information, refer to the FDA website."
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