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A restaurant in New Jersey is under fire after a diner posted a video of a worm wriggling out of their fish dish. However, it’s the restaurant's reaction to the video that seems to have caused the most debate around the issue.
Jim Guinee was sitting down for a meal with his girlfriend when they noticed a small worm wriggling out of her half-eaten fish dish. The couple proceeded to film the incident before showing staff what had happened.
In a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page, The Stella Marina Bar and Restaurant said: “One of our seafood purveyors did send us Saturday's cod and missed the small worms that were found by two of our guests, located in the centre of the fish.”
The post, which has since been deleted, continued: “We immediately halted serving the dish. We compensated the family of 8 generously and expressed our sincere concern and apologies that one of our guests had anything less than an amazing experience at our restaurant.”
They then said they were “very surprised at the callousness and irresponsible reaction of an attorney of law to attempt to destroy our reputation and possible livelihoods due to something that could have happened to anyone, whether cooking at home or in a restaurant.”
It’s actually a real shame the post was removed because the debate around the topic was slowly balancing out. There was the obvious and expected social outrage, some saying they would never eat there again, but many explaining how they had also encountered the worms while cooking fish.
They’re called nematodes and they are present in almost every fish, they should be killed by freezing the fish at -4 degrees or by heating the fish over 145 degrees - and any chef will tell you, that’s way too high to cook some perfect fish. This is why many places have rules stating that all fish must be frozen before cooking. It’s also one of the reasons people claim to prefer farmed fish over wild caught fish – less parasites in a controlled area.
Just take a look at this video below showing fishermen removing worms from freshly caught and filleted Amberjack.
Guinee took offense to being called out on his job and for posting the video. "If I had been a plumber, would they have said I’m a callous plumber?” he told NJ.com. “It wasn’t meant with any ill intent. I definitely didn’t think that many people would view it, and I just didn’t want them to keep serving the cod.”
There's a common misconception that worms must mean cheap, bad, unfresh fish, but this is not the case. Every fish purveyor will explain that worms are prevalent in almost all wild caught fish, does this make it one of the only cases where a farmed option is better? Do we need even stricter laws for freezing fish? Should we all eat it over done at 145 degrees? Was this single restaurant at fault? Pun entirely intended here, but this case opens up a real can of worms.