Calisterio opened a package of fresh cod, eager to whip up
some ceviche for dinner. But an uninvited guest quickly foiled
those plans: a small, thin, wriggling worm found inside the
a popular bartender at a Sacramento, California, gastropub,
filmed a few seconds of the writhing invertebrate on his
iPhone and posted the video to his Facebook page. A slew of
grossed-out comments followed, along the likes of:
... "OMG EWWWW!!!!" ... "I think I may have to
eliminate fish now. Forever."
of Calisterioís colleagues in the restaurant industry made a
counterpoint: Worms in fresh cod and other whitefish are
actually fairly common, and the fish is fine if cooked
to say, if youíve ever taken down a basket of fish and
chips, chances are youíve ingested some deep-fried worm
parts at some point.
lot of ĎTaco Tuesdaysí also use cod," Calisterio
said. "Itís fun to be romantic and say, ĎIím eating
fresh,í but thereís a little reality check when you see a
worm in your food."
instances of worms found in fresh fish have emerged on social
media. One video taken of a worm found in a package of cod
purchased at a South Carolina Costco was shared more than
349,000 times on Facebook. By comparison, Calisterioís video
was shared just seven times on Facebook but drew more than 40
comments, ranging from the snarky to the sickened and the
purchased the fish at a Safeway, where he recalls the fish
monger saying the fresh cod was an especially good deal and
would be perfect for Calisterioís ceviche.
got home, cracked open the freshly wrapped cod and started
deboning," Calisterio said. "Then I see the worm. Itís
not in the fish. Itís next to it in the packaging Ė and
following my finger."
found in Calisterioís cod was most likely an anisakid
nematode, a larval roundworm thatís associated with cod,
halibut and other bottom feeders. According to the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration, infections caused by ingesting these
worms through raw or undercooked seafood are rare, fewer than
10 cases annually. However, the FDA reports that many more
cases may go undetected.
cases, swallowing this worm wonít cause much more than
temporary stomach discomfort. These worms are usually
eliminated from the digestive tract within three weeks. In the
most severe scenario, the parasite or its remnants would have
to be removed via surgery.
prevalence of these worms is why you never see cod sashimi
offered at a sushi bar. Cod is meant to be cooked thoroughly
to kill any critters that might still be clinging to the fish.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends
an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit when cooking
the worm in the cod isnít much different than the occasional
bug found in that haul of farmers-market fruit. Many fish
processors try to ferret out the worms by examining the
seafood under lights, but sometimes the creatures still make
it to market.
is a rare occurrence at Safeway," said Keith Turner, a
spokesperson for Safeway, in a statement. "If a customer
has a concern with fish or any other product, they should
return the item for a full refund."
what happened to Calisterio once he contacted the midtown
Safeway. Calisterio says they initially offered him a
replacement of fresh cod, but he opted to just get his eight
bucks back. Dinner plans for homemade ceviche were scrapped,
and Calisterio chose frozen shrimp instead.
though Calisterio ultimately learned the worm was fairly
benign, the whole experience was a buzz kill.
going to be a lot more cautious," Calisterio said.
"It will take some convincing for me to buy cod any time