Doggie dining Japan-style

As more towns in Florida embrace legalized doggie dining, Japan is grappling with a lack of registration and poor sanitation.

The Japanese version is not-so-much about owners bringing their pooches to dinner, it’s for career-minded 30-somethings who are too busy to care for a pet to have 30 minutes of animal interaction.

The Daily Yomiuri Online reports the trend began with so-called cat cafes, and there are now more than 120 establishments nationwide where people can enjoy the healing effects of being surrounded by animals such as dogs, birds, goats and rabbits.

However, some shops have not registered as required with local governments, and experts are warning them to be aware that some diseases can be transmitted from animals to people.

According to Norimasa Hanada, 39, who opened a cat cafe ahead of the boom in 2005 in Machida, western Tokyo, and runs a Web site "Zenkoku Neko Cafe Map," there are at least 120 cat cafes nationwide. Newer shops featuring dogs, goats and birds also have have opened recently, he said.

Besides offering cats to pet, some cafes have begun activities to help protect the animals. Ekoneko, a cat cafe that opened in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward in October, works with Little Cats, a nonprofit organization based in Kofu that works to find homes for stray cats.

According to the Tokyo metropolitan government’s animal care counseling center, animal cafes at which customers pay admission fees fall under the category of "exhibition" facilities, and are regulated by the Animal Protection Law like zoos and aquariums.

For this reason, such shops are required to register with prefectural governments as businesses that deal with animals and employ a regular staff member possessing an animal health technician license or other such qualification.

A cafe in Nerima Ward, which charges 200 yen per 30 minutes on top of a drink fee, touts on its Web site that customers can play with animals at the shop.

"I didn’t even know about the registration requirement. I don’t have time to obtain the qualification," the cafe’s female owner said.

A female manager of a cafe in Tokyo, who was patting an animal’s head over a fence, said: "We haven’t registered as we just keep the animals outside the cafe. These animals are not exhibited inside the premises."

She said the center staff who visited her cafe to confirm the situation had judged it was unnecessary for the establishment to register as it did not charge a separate fee to exhibit the animals.

Some New Zealand cafes have no handwashing facilities

Surveying toilets is valid social and academic exercise. People can say, dude, wash your hands, in as many clever, hilarious and gross ways, but proper handwashing requires proper access to proper tools.

Five, fourth-year University of Otago pharmacy students in Dunedin, New Zealand, visited 92 publicly available toilets, 43 of them in cafes, in their research into the adequacy of handwashing facilities in the community setting.

More than 90 per cent of the cafes had available taps, soap and means of drying hands, but while the 25 public toilets surveyed all had taps, only 17 had soap and drying facilities.

The 24 toilets in other locations, such as shopping areas, met all these requirements.

The water provided in the public toilets was cold in most instances, although 4 per cent of these surveyed had no water.

Microbiologically, water temperature doesn’t matter, but the students pointed out that the colder the water the more likely it was to reduce the frequency and time spent on washing hands.

Public toilets scored the worst on the provision of hand-drying mechanisms, with almost a third having nothing, compared with the overall result of 12 per cent in this category.

Council environmental health team leader Ros MacGill confirmed that the council inspectors did not normally check customer toilets as their brief was to look at the hygiene practices of food-handlers.

Indiana: BS inspection results at BSU

Adding another peg to my places-I’ve-visited-in-New Zealand map, I’m currently in Dunedin at an Otago Universtiy café. Perhaps it’s the years at the uber laidback University of Guelph, but I prefer the campus atmosphere to that of the usual downtown internet hot spot, though it often gives me moments of déjà vu.

In another déjà vu moment, students at Ball State University may be unimpressed with the results of campus eatery inspections. Back in February I blogged about the unsatisfactory number of inspections taking place at the university, with some food locations going nearly six years without an inspection. Now The Star Press reveals that the inspections are being completed, but with poor results.

The food court in The Atrium of Ball State University’s Art and Journalism Building  has been cited for nine critical and seven non-critical violations of sanitation regulations.

Tom Russell, a registered environmental health specialist at the university, explained that it’s not necessarily unsafe to eat at the food court.

"If you had a couple of critical violations come together, it could result in a foodborne illness. You do not want to have recurring violations. It needs to be addressed."

State and university inspectors also cited The Barnes and Noble Cafe (seven critical, seven non-critical violations), the Alumni Center/University Catering (two critical, one non-critical violations), Elliot/Wagoner Dining (four critical, six non-critical violations), and the food court in the student center (five critical, six non-critical violations) during inspections last month.

University spokesman Tony Proudfoot said the university is certainly not satisfied with the results.

"Dining services is looking at bringing in a consultant to help evaluate our program and identify any opportunities we might have to close gaps and improve. The consultant will be asked to identify training and procedures to help us resolve these issues."

Some of the violations found last month were the same as those found when the university called the state health department in to conduct inspections in February.