Sunday 20 October 2019

Sushi audit found 90pc of restaurants had poor standards on hygiene

Raw: As sushi is not cooked, there is a concern about dangers of parasites. Stock picture
Raw: As sushi is not cooked, there is a concern about dangers of parasites. Stock picture
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Diners were left at risk of infection from raw frozen fish which was being defrosted at room temperature for sushi dishes, food safety inspectors revealed.

Freezers where fish was being stored for the Japanese delicacy were over 20C.

And some of the fish was being delivered without temperature checks.

The breaches which failed to safeguard human health were revealed in an audit of eleven sushi manufacturers, restaurants and takeaway outlets carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

Overall some 90pc of the inspected businesses fell short and did not have adequate safety controls in place.

Three major manufacturers in the audit supply and produce sushi for the corporate sector.

The watchdog's chief executive Pamela Byrne said: "Raw fish from both fresh water and salt water can be a potential source of human infection due to the presence of parasites.

"Therefore, controls to ensure the raw fish used in sushi is parasite free are critical, as there is no cooking process in sushi to kill off potentially harmful parasites."

She pointed out: "Sushi rice needs specific food safety controls to avoid the presence of specific food-borne bacteria commonly found in rice."

The audit revealed 76 breaches of food safety regulations. Of the 11 premises audited, only one had no breaches of food safety and hygiene legislation.

The FSAI was carried out in light of a reported 80pc increase in the number of restaurants offering sushi since 2018 as more people perceive the dish as healthy, low calorie and vitamin-rich.

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish are linked to heart protection and improved circulation.

There was a 60pc rise in sushi orders since 2015 by one of the major delivery companies.

The eight restaurants audited ranged from food outlets where sushi was served to consumers on the premises, through to small outlets where sushi was delivered to people in their homes.

There were also basic hygiene breaches with one worker seen washing their hands with gloves on.

Inspectors found unclean equipment and a lack of training of staff in relation to food safety controls.

There were unsuitable cloths used to wrap fish in .

"It showed that over three quarters of the food businesses did not have adequate food safety controls in place for this."

All of the outlets inspected have now rectified their standards and the FSAI is distributing specific advice to help the wider sector.

Irish Independent

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