ASBURY PARK — A shore restaurant has responded to a customer who posted video of a worm in a dish, even after the restaurant made good on the meal and took steps to prevent a second incident.

Jim Guinee posted the video on his Facebook page after finding the worm in one of the fish dishes served during his aunt's 80th birthday dinner at the Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant in Asbury Park on Saturday night. A close-up shot shows someone poking at the worm, which appeared on a bed of rice, and a young voice is heard saying, "I hope I didn't eat any of those."

A man's voice is heard complaining about going through their dinner without being served drinks and saying there was "dinner that comes to life."

The restaurant on its Facebook page called posting the video "callousness and [a] irresponsible reaction of an attorney of law to attempt to destroy our reputation & possible livelihoods due to something that could have happened to anyone, whether cooking at home or in a restaurant."

Parasitic worms are common in many types of wild-caught fish. To kill the worms, the fish either has to be deep frozen or cooked at very high temperatures.

The worms are not a threat if they have been killed in the cooking process.

Parasites become a concern when consumers eat raw or lightly preserved fish such as sashimi, sushi, ceviche, and gravlax," according to SeaFoodHealthFacts.org. "When preparing these products, use commercially frozen fish. Alternatively, freeze the fish to an internal temperature of -4°F for at least 7 days to kill any parasites that may be present. Home freezers are usually between 0°F and 10°F and may not be cold enough to kill the parasites."

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The restaurant's post went on to say it does its best to serve "the freshest and highest quality food products." But it said one of its seafood purveyors sent it Saturday's cod and "missed the small worms that were found by two of our guests, located in the center of their piece of fish."

According to the restaurant, parasitic roundworms are frequently found in the guts and flesh.

"No matter how carefully fish is inspected by processors, caterers and retailers, some worms will occasionally be discovered in fish by the consumer. In reply to complaints it should be pointed out that every reasonable precaution is taken to prevent worms being present in the edible part of a fish," the restaurant wrote.

The restaurant said it immediately stopped serving the dish and "compensated the family of 8 generously and expressed our sincere concern and apologies that one our guests had anything less than an amazing experience at our restaurant."

Guinee, who is an attorney, said that he has not taken legal action against Stella Marina.

Many of the comments to the restaurant's post were critical of what writers perceived as the restaurant blaming the customer.

"I've eaten at Stella Marina often and I have always enjoyed my experience there. But this response by Stella Marina seems lacking and in poor taste," Zettie Ray. wrote. "The customer in question had every right to voice his complaint, and make it public should he desire, as the restaurant caters to the public. It is on Stella Marina to manage this PR crisis instead of blaming the customer, especially since it has seemingly admitted that had the food been properly cooked, this incident would not have happened."

 

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