39 sick from Salmonella in sushi in Ukraine

Toma Istomina of the KyivPost writes an outbreak of cases of Salmonella infections in Kyiv has revealed a rash of sanitary violations in the city’s restaurants.

Police have started criminal proceedings against Eurasia, a popular chain of sushi restaurants in Kyiv, after 39 people came down with Salmonella poisoning after eating in two of its restaurants. An investigation found that one of the cooks had spread the bacteria.

Further inspections by Ukraine’s food safety authorities uncovered numerous sanitary violations in at least 79 other restaurants in Kyiv.

However, legislation that was in effect until June 30 prevented the authorities from immediately issuing fines or shutting down the offenders – the law had stipulated that such measures could be taken only after a scheduled inspection, and not an unscheduled one.

The only restaurants to be temporarily closed as of July 5 were the two Eurasia sushi bars where customers were infected by the bacteria – on 2A Dmytrivska St. and 20 Stepan Bandera St.

The first cases of salmonellosis infection were reported on June 27, when 34 people sought treatment for the symptoms of Salmonella poisoning – diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. All had eaten in the two Eurasia restaurants, and five more people reported infection within the following week.

Most of the infected customers were hospitalized. The State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection launched an inspection of the entire Eurasia chain.

Food inspector in the house: Petting zoo, sushi and school fete

Grey nomading is a term I never heard until I came to Australia.

Same with fete.

A grey nomad is “a retired person who travels independently and for an extended period within their own country, particularly in a caravan or motor home.”

My retired friend Rod, previously with the New South Wales Food Authority, and his wife Alison were grey nomading by BrisVegas on Sunday, so I took them to Sorenne’s school fete, featuring a petting zoo, homemade foods and a host of microbiological hazards.

As we passed the sushi stall, we looked at each other and silently shook our heads, no.

Darcy Spears of KTNV in Nevada reports, the annual River Run, which brings tens of thousands of people to Laughlin from Las Vegas and elsewhere, a Laughlin sushi bar will be recovering from a 33-demerit C grade.

The sushi bar at Minato Japanese and Korean restaurant on South Casino Drive in Laughlin is back on Dirty Dining for the second time.

Darcy: And we’d just like to get your side of the story from whoever is in charge.

Person in charge: Um, sorry, right now we’re not available for that.

Darcy: You’re not available? But you’re standing right in front of me. You look available.

Person in charge: I mean, you say you need a person in charge, right?

Darcy: Yes. And so of course if the restaurant’s open there has to be someone in charge on property.

Person in charge: Well, I’m in charge but you need someone probably a little higher than me for this kind of thing.

Darcy: If you need to call someone you can. We just want to make sure we give you guys the chance to tell customers why you guys happened to get the most demerits of all the inspected restaurants last week, and, a lot of stuff in here seems to indicate with temperature issues that the sushi could be potentially unsafe and we like to make sure you have the chance to comment on that.

Person in charge: Um, no thanks. I’ll decline.

Inspectors found sushi rice and shredded crab left out on the counter at unsafe temperatures. 

Ground mixed tuna and shrimp were also in the temperature danger zone.

There weren’t roaches running around or expired food, but there was a lot of issues with temperatures and handwashing and things that could spread foodborne illness.

Food safety is what happens when people pay attention.

 

No thanks: Parasite destruction proof needed for sushi

The source of raw tuna and salmon being served at Enos Sushi in Forsyth County couldn’t be verified when a Forsyth County, Georgia, health inspector made a recent routine inspection.

sushi-largeThe fish was not in the original packaging and parasite destruction documentation was not available either, the inspector said. Points were taken off because food safety could not be determined, and the fish would be served raw in sushi.

Enos Sushi, 3630 Peachtree Parkway, Suwanee, received a failing score of 34/U. The restaurant also failed a routine inspection in August with a 62/U, then improved to 88/B on the follow-up inspection.

Why government regulation is coming to sushi

Cynthia Labelle-Tun, president of Edo Sushi Expresswrites in Food Safety Magazine:

I have been involved in the sushi industry since 2000 when my husband, Thihan Tun, and I opened Tun Asian Foods. We were an exclusive on-site sushi provider for Stop & Shop Supermarkets between 2002 and 2005. In 2005, we parted ways with Stop & Shop and decided to change our focus to delivery sushi in the New England region. Since then we have worked to provide safe and delicious food to businesses throughout the region.

recipesushi-rice-recipeOur strong focus on food safety came about due to our decision to focus on delivering fresh sushi. We already had a basic on-site Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan and Standard Operating Procedures, but delivering fresh sushi requires special handling due to perishability issues. This caused Edo Sushi Express to begin the long road to a deeper understanding of sushi food safety. One of the results of this road was the law in Connecticut changing the way the health department looks at sushi rice.
Sushi rice as a cause of human illness or death could not be found by this author.

However, local health officials get very concerned when sushi rice is held in a rice warmer with a temperature of approximately 110 °F. Rice falls under the category of starchy foods served warm during meals. Normally, it would be held at a temperature of 135 °F or above to avoid bacterial growth. If the rice is not acidified, the temperature must be below 41 °F or above 135 °F.
Sushi chefs in the United States are usually trained by their peers and/or the companies they work for. The lead sushi chef must usually have an up-to-date ServSafe food handling license.

Another requirement for most sushi bars today is an HACCP plan. The HACCP plan will document the risks involved with making sushi and make note of the need for rice acidification.  The seasoned vinegar added to sushi rice acidifies it. The pH must be maintained below 4.6. Acidified rice is considered, in most places, to be considered potentially nonhazardous.
In fact, sushi rice is not a food hazard if it is made correctly. The preparation of sushi rice is different than regular rice. After the rice is steamed, it is cooled for a short time; seasoned rice vinegar is then mixed in with the cooked rice. It is the responsibility of the sushi chef to check the pH level of the rice using litmus paper or a pH testing monitor. The pH level is recorded in a pH log. This pH log is a tool for the local health official to check on the safety of the sushi rice.

In Connecticut, as a sushi bar operator and sushi supplier, our company has had to deal with the lack of a state-wide accurate policy on sushi rice safety. This lack of a coherent policy has made the actions of local health officials subjective about sushi rice. A sushi chef in one health district is met with differing requirements from a health district in the next county. Some examples of subjective decisions by health inspectors include:
1) A health inspector stated that after 2 hours at room temperature, the sushi rice had to be discarded.
2) A different health inspector insisted that sushi rice had to be held at 41 °F while making sushi.
3) A third health inspector insisted that the rice had to be above 135 °F at all times during the sushi-making process.

imagesThese were clear examples of how the lack of a state-wide food safety policy for sushi rice leads to confusion for the sushi chef trained in rice acidification. In fact, with all the discussion about sushi rice, the fragility of fish at room temperature was never mentioned in any of these situations.

The only way to deal with this type of situation is to change the law. If there is no law, then it needs to be created. Most states have different agencies dealing with different food venues. They might include the Department of Agriculture (grocery stores), Department of Public Health (catering, special events) and Department of Consumer Protection (restaurants). Interestingly, food safety laws and rules are not always shared between agencies. This is true in Connecticut. The law regarding sushi rice has to be changed on a per agency basis.

The Connecticut sushi rice law is the only one of its kind in the United States. It was signed by Governor Malloy in July 2015. Prior to this law, the Department of Public Health and local health departments were not required to allow acidification of sushi rice as an alternative to refrigeration. This new law gives the Department of Public Health the flexibility to make specific demands that will more than likely include a pH log, a rice recipe tested by a lab and an HACCP plan. The final text of the law reads as follows:
“Not later than October 1, 2016, the Commissioner of Public Health…with the Commissioner of Consumer Protection, shall adopt regulations…to allow the acidification of sushi rice as an alternative to temperature control under specified circumstances.”

Australian sushi shops owner fined $41,000 for food safety breaches

The owner of two Woden sushi shops has been fined $41,000 for serious health safety breaches.

sushi.aust.jan.16Raids on the Sizzle Bento and Roll-A-Sushi, owned by parent company World Fashion Food Pty Ltd, uncovered a cockroach infestation, a dishwasher that recycled dirty water, and food being defrosted and stored on the floor.

World Fashion Food Pty Ltd was sentenced by Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday on 11 criminal charges for the breaches of food standards.

Court documents said health authorities discovered a cockroach infestation, a dishwasher that repeatedly recycled dirty water, and an overheated display cabinet during raids at the now closed Sizzle Bento store in Woden Plaza in May 2011.

Cleanliness and food storage breaches were again detected during a second inspection in September 2011.

Pictures tendered in court showed food safety inspectors encountered cockroaches in the food preparation area.

Court documents said the sushi display cabinet had been set at about 10 degrees, instead of the recommended 5 degrees or less.

Government regulation is coming to US sushi

Cynthia LaBelle-Tun,  president of Edo Sushi Express. writes in Food Safety Magazine that she has been involved in the sushi industry since 2000 when my husband, Thihan Tun, and I opened Tun Asian Foods. We were an exclusive on-site sushi provider for Stop & Shop Supermarkets between 2002 and 2005. In 2005, we parted ways with Stop & Shop and decided to change our focus to delivery sushi in the New England region. Since then we have worked to provide safe and delicious food to businesses throughout the region.

sushi.riceOur strong focus on food safety came about due to our decision to focus on delivering fresh sushi. We already had a basic on-site Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan and Standard Operating Procedures, but delivering fresh sushi requires special handling due to perishability issues. This caused Edo Sushi Express to begin the long road to a deeper understanding of sushi food safety. One of the results of this road was the law in Connecticut changing the way the health department looks at sushi rice.
Sushi is a traditional Japanese food that has been incorporated into the American cuisine, and as it has grown in popularity throughout the country, the health authorities in states and municipalities have had to grapple with the issue of food safety. Sushi is a Japanese word that means “seasoned rice.” And it is the sushi rice that concerns many health officials. The concern for health officials is the growth of bacteria that will normally begin growing in food held at room temperature within 2 hours.
In the United States, very few people die from eating sushi. Death from eating bad sushi is usually attributed to fugu, a type of poisonous fish rarely eaten in the United States. People do get sick from eating sushi, but the cause for illness is usually poorly handled fish. An example of this occurred earlier this year with a Salmonella outbreak caused by raw tuna. Salmonella is caused when food is exposed to feces. It is highly likely that the fish processor, in China or Indonesia, washed the tuna with dirty water. Raw fish to be used in sushi must be handled with care. Salmonella bacteria will not die if the fish is frozen, it will only stop growing.

NYC briefly shuts down sushi shop for live roaches

A midtown sushi restaurant that had been wracking up health violations for months when inspectors found evidence of rats, roaches and mice was shuttered for three days last week, records show.

EEL_TH_C_^_THUIQFuji Sushi, located at 238 W. 56th St., was forced to close by the Health Department on Sept. 8 when inspectors found live roaches in the restaurant.

Freezing isn’t a good preventive control for raw fish sushi

I like sushi, the raw fish kind, but I’m picky about where I eat it, and with each outbreak I’m becoming more apprehensive about consuming it

When I do choose the raw fish-dish, I ask about whether it’s sushi grade and was previously frozen (to take care of the parasitic worms). I stay away from ground tuna or back scrape (which I learned about after a 2012 Salmonella outbreak) since lots of handling and small pieces can increase my risk of foodborne illness. tuna_roll1-300x196

Lydia Zuraw of NPR’s food blog, The Salt writes about a sushi-linked outbreak earlier this year, and points out that freezing isn’t good a Salmonella control measure.

The outbreak in question began in California in March. All told, it sickened 65 people in 11 states. There were 35 cases in California, with another 18 in Arizona and New Mexico. The rest of the cases were scattered across the country, including four in Minnesota.

So if pathogens like Salmonella don’t usually contaminate fish, what went wrong with the sushi tuna in this case? The FDA tells The Salt it doesn’t know for sure. Maybe someone in the processing facility didn’t wash their hands. Maybe the water or equipment used in processing was contaminated. Or maybe a bird or rodent got into the fish on the boat or during the ride to the processing facility. There are many opportunities for contamination to occur between capture and processing.

Ironically, freezing is usually considered a way to make sushi safer, because it kills any parasitic worms living in the raw fish flesh. That’s why last month, New York Citybegan requiring sushi restaurants to freeze their fish before serving it. Many of the city’s top sushi spots have been freezing their raw fish for this very reason for years.

But as this case highlights, freezing doesn’t guarantee your sushi is pathogen-free. While freezing will slow down the growth of Salmonella, cooking or pasteurizing are the only ways to kill the bacteria.

Raw remains risky: Osamu Corporation voluntarily recalls frozen yellow fin tuna chunk meat due to possible health risk

Osamu Corporation of Gardena, CA is recalling Frozen Yellow Fin Tuna Chunk Meat (Lot #68568) sold to AFC Corporation of Rancho Dominquez, CA sourced from one processing plant in Indonesia.

tuna.sushi.raw.jul.15Investigators with the Minnesota Department of Health found samples of this product from one retail location in Minnesota to be contaminated with Salmonella.

There have been two reports of illness to date associated with exposure to AFC sushi in Minnesota.

The Frozen Tuna Yellow Fin Chunk Meat (Lot #68568) was shipped to AFC from 05/20/15 to 05/26/15. AFC has removed the product from the marketplace and is destroying any remaining product it has.

AFC has sushi franchises nationwide in many different grocery stores and it is sold from sushi counters.

Consumers concerned about whether the sushi they purchased may contain the recalled tuna product should check with the store where they purchased the sushi. That store will be able to determine if it used the recalled product to prepare the sushi. At this time Osamu does not believe that the recalled product or sushi made with the recalled product is available for purchase by consumers.

Source of Salmonella paratyphi B still a mystery

I like sushi, but I’m picky about where I eat it.

I avoid places that use ground tuna or back scrape (which I learned about after a 2012 Salmonella outbreak). But a current outbreak is making me evaluate my choice to eat any raw fish dish. According to CDC over 50 cases of a unique Salmonella paratyphi B variant are likely linked to tuna sushi, especially spicy tuna sushi which is usually ground.tuna_roll1

There are lots of pathways for Salmonella to get into sushi tuna. The pathogen could have been introduced on a fishing boat, in a processing plant, during packaging or in transport. Hygiene, cross-contamination or sanitation are all a possibility – and that’s what I told Rachael Ratner of Live Science.

Raw tuna is the suspected source of a new outbreak of Salmonella, but how does tuna become contaminated with the bacteria in the first place?

It’s not typical for fish in a natural environment to harbor Salmonella, the way it is, say, for cows to harbor E. coli in their guts, said Benjamin Chapman, a food safety specialist and associate professor at North Carolina State University.

Although, a 2006 Australian study showed tropical fish aquariums could be a reservoir for Salmonella paratyphi B

Experts say that the Salmonella probably wasn’t living on the fish itself, but rather the tuna became contaminated at some point when the food was being handled.

The Salmonella could come from people who handled the food in a restaurant or a processing facility (processing is likely looking at the illness distribution -ben), and didn’t properly wash their hands, Chapman said.

Because health officials have not identified a specific product tied to the current outbreak, it’s too soon to say how the tuna might have become contaminated.
“The more information that we get about [the product], the easier it would be to look for contamination roots,” Chapman said.

But in general, the risk of foodborne illness is higher with raw or undercooked meats, compared with cooked meats, Chapman said. That’s because the extra step of cooking can kill potential pathogens. With raw meats, “there’s no step in between handing [and eating] to reduce risk,” Chapman said.