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Family Says They Found Parasites in Fish Bought at California Costco, Prompting Investigation

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Public health officials were investigating a Costco store in California’s Central Valley after customers recently reported finding a parasite in their seafood, according to a local television station.

The Rock family says they found recently found a parasite in a package of fish purchased from a Northern California Costco store. (Credit: KCRA via CNN)

The Rock family says they found recently found a parasite in a package of fish purchased from a Northern California Costco store. (Credit: KCRA via CNN)

Stefanie Rock purchased the package of cod and salmon from the Costco in Manteca two days after Christmas. She told KCRA her family discovered “at least two” parasites in one of the fish filets.

Disturbed, the family grabbed a cellphone and recorded video of the parasites, which they sent along with a letter to the San Joaquin County Department of Public Health.

“It seems like shock to conscious for Costco selling this knowing they have these parasitical worms inside of their food,” John Rock told the Sacramento-area station.

Environmental Health Specialist Lisa Medina said that Costco mostly repackages the fish, and does not do any of the main processing, according to KCRA.

But, she said, “From a quality control perspective, no, [parasites] should not be visible.”

The incident wasn’t the first time a Costco customer in the northern part of the state has alleged finding a parasite moving inside a package of fish this year.

At one of the store’s Bay Area locations, a customer shot cellphone video in mid-July allegedly showing a “living parasite” in a package of salmon, according to KPIX.

A Costco employee told the station the parasite-looking creature – which are typically roundworms – weren’t unusual in packages of fish.

A local caterer with four decades of experience agreed.

“All the fish have a little worm in them for sure, most of them, but you have to cook the fish, and then it’s OK,” Kenny Kim told KPIX.

Health officials advise consumers to cook their fish until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees for 15 seconds.

According to the FDA, “The process of heating raw fish sufficiently to kill bacterial pathogens is also sufficient to kill parasites.”

That, however, does not sit well with the Rock family.

“Those worms are natural? That’s not acceptable,” John Rock told KCRA. “I don’t want to cook a parasitical worm thoroughly for my dinner.”

CNN contributed to this story.