39 sick from Vibrio in sushi in Japan

They have a video, but this one is better.

The Japan News reports that Totoyamichi, a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant operator affiliated with Japan’s Skylark Holdings Co., — which sounds creepy enough on its own — has been shutting all 24 outlets since Monday after food poisoning occurred at some of them.

At least 39 customers have complained of food poisoning symptoms after eating at Totoyamichi restaurants.

Skylark reported the case only on its website while stopping short of holding a press conference. The restaurant group may thus come under fire for failing to fully explain the incident, analysts said.

According to Skylark, food poisoning symptoms, such as diarrhea and stomachache, were reported from customers who used eight Totoyamichi outlets in Tokyo and neighboring Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures between Aug. 31 and Sept. 3. The affected customers are recovering from their illness.

In a survey by Skylark, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a type of bacteria that causes stomachache and other symptoms, was detected from raw sea urchin at some outlets.
 

 

621 inmates suffer food poisoning at Kyoto prison

When I was in prison 37 years ago, it had its own canning unit. Prisons have always been de facto work camps, and food is where the laborers were needed. Lotsa rumors about saltpeter, the daily horse chestnuts (canned plums) and whatever else could be thrown in a minimal cost.

It’s only gotten worse as privitization has taken over.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky said: “The degree of civilisation in a society is revealed by entering its prisons.”

According to Yusuke Kaite of The Mainichi 621 inmates recently suffered food poisoning at Kyoto Prison, the municipal government announced on July 4.

Although the exact cause was not identified, the city declared the outbreak a case of mass food poisoning, and banned the use of food facilities at the prison for three days.

Men from the ages of 26 to 76 suffered symptoms such as diarrhea and stomachaches from the morning of June 28 after food was cooked in the kitchen by 24 inmates. A total of 1,132 inmates and others had meals made at the kitchen at the time.

Almost 2100 sickened: Noro in dried seaweed in Japan, 2017

Seven foodborne norovirus outbreaks attributable to the GII.P17-GII.17 strain were reported across Japan in 2017, causing illness in a total of 2,094 persons. Nori (dried shredded seaweed) was implicated in all outbreaks and tested positive for norovirus. Our data highlight the stability of norovirus in dehydrated food products.

Foodborne outbreaks caused by human norovirus GII.P17-GII.17-contaminated Nori, Japan, 2017

Emerging Infections Diseases, Volume 24, Issue 5, May 2018,  https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2405.171733

Naomi Sakon, Kenji Sadamasu, Takayuki Shinkai, Yousuke Hamajima, Hideaki Yoshitomi, Yuki Matsushima, Rika Takada, Fumio Terasoma, Asako Nakamura, Jun Komano, Koo Nagasawa, Hideaki Shimizu, Kazuhiko Katayama, and Hirokazu Kimura

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/24/5/17-1733_article

 

Restaurant liable in 2011 E. coli outbreak with 5 dead: Food safety disasters nothing new in Japan

In June 1996, initial reports of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in Japan surfaced in national media.

By July 1996, focus had centered on specific school cafeterias and two vendors of box lunches, as the number of illnesses approached 4,000. Lunches of sea eel sushi and soup distributed on July 5 from Sakai’s central school lunch depot were identified by health authorities as a possible source of one outbreak. The next day, the number of illnesses had increased to 7,400 even as reports of Japanese fastidiousness intensified. By July 23, 1996, 8,500 were listed as ill.

Even though radish sprouts were ultimately implicated — and then publicly cleared in a fall-on-sword ceremony, but not by the U.S. — the Health and Welfare Ministry announced that Japan’s 333 slaughterhouses must adopt a quality control program modeled on U.S. safety procedures, requiring companies to keep records so the source of any tainted food could be quickly identified. Kunio Morita, chief of the ministry’s veterinary sanitation division was quoted as saying “It’s high time for Japan to follow the international trend in sanitation management standards.”

Japanese health authorities were terribly slow to respond to the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, a standard facilitated by a journalistic culture of aversion rather than adversarial. In all, over 9,500 Japanese, largely schoolchildren, were stricken with E. coli O157:H7 and 12 were killed over the summer of 1996, raising questions of political accountability.

The national Mainichi newspaper demanded in an editorial on July 31, 1996, “Why can’t the government learn from past experience? Why were they slow to react to the outbreak? Why can’t they take broader measures?” The answer, it said, was a “chronic ailment” — the absence of anyone in the government to take charge in a crisis and ensure a coordinated response. An editorial cartoon in the daily Asahi Evening News showed a health worker wearing the label “government emergency response” riding to the rescue on a snail. Some of the victims have filed lawsuits against Japanese authorities, a move previously unheard of in the Japanese culture of deference.

Fifteen years later, with at least four dead and 100 sick from E. coli O111 served in raw beef at the Yakiniku-zakaya Ebisu barbecue restaurant chain, Japanese corporate, political and media leaders are still struggling.

Anrakutei Co., a Saitama-based yakiniku barbecue chain, stopped serving yukke at its 250 outlets, mainly in the Kanto region, on Tuesday.

“We’ve been providing the dish to customers based on strict quality control, but customers’ concerns make it difficult to continue to serve it,” a public relations official of the company said.

Anrakutei said the company conducts bacteria tests on the Australian beef it uses for yukke three times–first before it is purchased, again before it is sent to the company’s meat processing plant and finally before it is shipped to outlets. At the plant, the meat is processed separately from other food materials to prevent it from coming into contact with bacteria, the company explained.

There is no discussion of what is being tested, and how valid those tests are at picking up a non-O157 shiga-toxin producing E. coli like O111 There is no verification that anyone is testing anything.

In the absence of meat goggles that can magically detect dangerous bacteria, eating raw hamburger remains a risk.

Today, the Tokyo District Court ordered restaurant chain operator Foods Forus Co. to pay ¥169 million ($1.58 million) to the families of three victims who died from food poisoning after eating raw meat at one of its barbecue restaurants in 2011.

While the court awarded damages to the plaintiffs, it ruled that the former president of Foods Forus, which is filing for special liquidation, was not guilty of gross negligence. The plaintiffs had sought around ¥209 million in damages and medical treatment expenses from the company and the former president.

Around 180 customers developed symptoms of food poisoning after dining at six Yakiniku-zakaya Ebisu restaurants in four prefectures — Kanagawa, Toyama, Ishikawa, and Fukui — in April 2011. A strain of E. coli, O-111, was found in many of the victims.

Five died due to illness. Nine plaintiffs, including the families of three who died after eating at the outlet in Tonami, Toyama Prefecture, sued the company and the former president in October 2014.

In February 2016, police investigated the former president on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death or injury and sent the case to prosecutors. But the prosecutors decided not to indict him.

The families of the victims are considering filing a petition with a prosecution inquest panel in a bid to overturn the decision.

Norovirus sickens 70 at Kyoto hot springs inn

The Japan Times reports that in an apparent case of food poisoning earlier this month, 70 people came down with symptoms after eating at a hot springs inn in Kyoto and eight were found to be infected by the norovirus, the Kyoto Prefectural Government said Saturday.

The Kyoto Prefectural Government ordered the inn to suspend business for three days starting Saturday. None of the 70, who complained of vomiting and diarrhea, is in serious condition.

Local authorities believe the virus originated from an employee.

100 schoolchildren sick with Salmonella in Japan

The Tokyo Reporter says nearly 100 children at 4 kindergartens in Okazaki City fell ill after eating boxed meals tainted with Salmonella, prepared by a company with a history of providing tainted meals.

A total of 87 kindergartners, aged 3 to 6, reported symptoms like fever and vomiting after consuming the tainted bento meals between 21 and 28 Sep 2017, according to officials of Okazaki, reports TBS News on 29 Sep 2017. Salmonella was detected in many of the affected children, 10 of whom were hospitalized, but none are in life-threatening condition, authorities said.

The tainted bento meals were provided to the kindergartens in the cities of Nagoya, Gamagori, and Nisshin by Tokiwa Shyokuhin foods in Okazaki, city officials said. Officials of Okazaki said Tokiwa Shyokuhin was suspended from business operations amid fears there could be more victims. The food company was also responsible for producing meals that left 71 people with food poisoning in April 2016, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

Japan theme park draws ire over 5,000 fish frozen into ice skate rink

I’m about to go play hockey and ref and coach for the next three hours – no complaints, it is what it is, we get the ice, we play.

My feet will hurt.

fukuoka-space-world-frozen-fish-ice-skating1But at least I don’t have to skate over fish.

Roland Shichijo of Tokyo Reporter writes a theme park in Kitakyushu City is facing a growing tide of criticism over its educational attraction featuring some 5,000 sea creatures frozen into an ice rink in what it boasts to be a world-first — and possibly Japan’s last.

Space World, described as a “theme park all about space” by the Japan National Tourism Organization, launched the “Freezing Port” event for its existing ice rink on November 12 as a limited winter and spring exhibition to educate visitors about marine life.

Park visitors can rent ice skates and glide over a wide variety of fish and shellfish frozen into the ice in different zones, according to the official web site, including a section featuring enlarged photos of bigger creatures such as whale sharks that some mistook to be real.

Many of the fish used for the attractions were unfit for retail sale and sourced from public fish markets, a Space World official said.

The theme park promised in October that visitors would have a “chance to enjoy skating under unreal conditions at an attraction both unseen and unheard of” in what is “not only a Japan-first, but undeniably a world-first.”

But an initially cautious reception quickly turned to dismay and anger after the theme park began posting preview photos of the ice rink on its Facebook page on October 26, accompanied by what many criticized as inappropriate captions.

Netizens were particularly vocal about a caption for a “Part.7” November 7 photo showing bodies of fish half-frozen into the ice rink that read “I’m d..d..drowning…It h…h..hurts…,” with one comment saying the park shouldn’t “make life into a toy.”

In another photo post dated November 8, visitors urged others to boycott the park while others condemned the attraction as an “insult to life” and urged the park to “go out of business.”

Space World continued to preview the attraction despite mounting criticism with a final “Part.11” photo on November 11, which drew over 100 comments expressing varying degrees of shock and shame –– including a claim that the attraction was gaining attention in China as “Japan’s vulgar theme park.”

An official from Space World’s public relations department confirmed to news site Netlabo that the park has “received lots of opinions on sites like Twitter, and some have even contacted us directly.”

The official denied allegations that the park used live fish for the ice rink.

E. coli O157 detected in 5 of 21 sickened after eating cutlets in Japan

The Japan Times reports that five of 21 people who fell ill after eating frozen cutlets sold by a company in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, have been found to suffer from food poisoning from the O157 strain of E. coli bacteria, prefectural health officials said Tuesday.

niku-no-ishikawaThe patients’ symptoms included stomachaches and diarrhea. The O157 strain was detected from the cutlets and the patients’ stools.

The frozen cutlets, made of minced beef and pork, were sold by the meat company Niku No Ishikawa, according to the prefectural officials.

The best-before date of the products, made by a company in neighboring Shizuoka Prefecture on behalf of Niku No Ishikawa, was set at Feb. 26, 2017.

The cutlets were sold at 26 Ito-Yokado Co. supermarkets in Kanagawa and Chiba Prefecture. Ito-Yokado, a unit of Seven & I Holdings Co., had removed all of the products from its stores as of Wednesday.

The Kanagawa Prefectural Government is calling on purchasers of the cutlets not to eat them and contact the stores where they were bought.

Gross: Raw chicken sashimi: Japan’s health types urge

Takahiro Takenouchi of The Asahi Shimbun reports that chicken sashimi and “tataki” (seared chicken breasts and livers) are a common menu item in yakitori bars and restaurants across Japan.

chicken-sashimiHowever, eating undercooked or raw chicken can cause food poisoning via the campylobacter bacteria, which can cause severe stomach pain and diarrhea.

Raw beef liver and raw pork are banned, but no such restrictions have been imposed on raw chicken, despite many cases of food poisoning caused by eating tainted bird meat.

“It is not fatty, and I love it. I never worry about food poisoning,” said a 39-year-old company employee enjoying a plate of chicken sashimi at a yakitori bar in Tokyo.

The owner of the yakitori bar added, “Chicken sashimi and tataki have been some of our popular dishes since we opened (50 years ago). I am careful about campylobacter.”

The owner said she purchases chickens freshly butchered in the morning for sashimi, and the meat is boiled in hot water until the surface turns white. No cases of food poisoning have ever been reported related to her restaurant.

In June this year, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare finally took action and advised regional public health centers to take steps to implement preventative measures to reduce food poisoning from raw chicken.

Although the advisory is not legally binding, the ministry printed fliers asking restaurants to change their practices.

“Re-evaluate raw and half-raw chicken menus,” the flier reads, urging restaurants to heat the meat at 75 degrees at its core for one minute.

More than 800 people complained about stomachaches or diarrhea in Tokyo and Fukuoka in April and May after eating chicken breast sashimi and chicken sushi rolls at events made by the same company.

chicken-sashimi-2The mass food poisoning in the span of two months prompted the ministry to issue its advisory.

According to ministry preliminary statistics, there were 56 cases with 395 people treated at the hospital for food poisoning from campylobacter from June to August. More than half of the identified causes were due to consuming chicken.

Another ministry report says that 67 percent of chicken meat processed for consumption tested positive for the bacteria, and freshness does not always mean safe.

 “There is a certain demand for raw chicken eating, and it is part of our food culture,” a health ministry official said.

The ministry plans to estimate the number of campylobacter infection cases that go unreported to gauge the extent of the food poisoning as it only causes minor diarrhea in some cases. In addition, the ministry seeks to implement sterilizing methods, such as rapid freezing technology or food disinfectants.

“We never expect the public to consume chickens raw,” said Teruaki Oshima with the Japan Chicken Association, which is made up of meat producers and food processing companies. “If consumers choose to eat raw chicken, they should carefully consider the risks, and the level of hygiene and credibility of the restaurant.”

Everyone poops and it can power Toyota’s newest car

Sam Blum of Thrillist writes human poop is readily available anywhere humans are, and Toyota’s about to cash in on all that crap: The Japanese automaker is using the bountiful resource to make fuel for the Mirai, a hydrogen-based car, and according to Quartz, the process comes together through pretty simple science.

toyota-miraiAt a wastewater plant in Fukuoka, Japan, Toyota is creating biogas by adding microorganisms to liquid and solid waste. After that, scientists filter out all carbon dioxide, and add more water vapor to create hydrogen.

It’s the same poo-to-hydrogen conversion that’s proven quite useful in India, where “they have loads of biogas plants in villages and such that are just part of their energy infrastructure,” according to Marc Melaina of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

It’s a process that Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Toyota Mirai, would ultimately like to see create a “hydrogen society,” but poo isn’t known for its renewable potential, at least in the United States. Bill Elrick, executive director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership, laid bare the dilemma to Quartz, saying “There’s only some few hundred Mirais in the state of California right now…that’s not enough to turn it into a full business from Toyota’s perspective or the energy producers’ perspectives.”