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Genki Sushi’s scallops are source of hepatitis A outbreak, state says

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Genki Sushi restaurant at Ward Village is seen closed tonight. All 10 Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and one on Kauai have been ordered to close immediately due to hepatitis A contamination.

The state Department of Health said this evening that it has ordered all Oahu and Kauai Genki Sushi restaurants to close immediately after identifying the restaurants as the source of the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak.

“The Department of Health has determined the Hepatitis A outbreak on Oahu is likely due to imported frozen scallops served raw at Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai. The restaurants have been closed tonight to prevent any further illness and protect the public,” health officials said.

There are 10 Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and one on Kauai.

So far, 168 people have been infected, mostly on Oahu, in the worst hepatitis outbreak in more than two decades in Hawaii. The virus is usually spread through food or drink contaminated with traces of the feces of an infected person. The infectious liver disease can also spread through close personal contact.

Health officials said late last week that investigators believe the likely source of the outbreak is a food or drink product brought to Oahu and widely distributed here. They plan to hold a news conference on the closures Tuesday morning.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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  • I hope they give more information on the actual product like country of origin, distributor and packer. Sometimes these products are sold under different brand names.

    • An argument should be made that the expansion of the Federal preserve/monument will only increase the dependency of Hawaii consumers on foreign sources of all seafood. The Hep A outbreak traced to the imported frozen scallops only shows how much the people of Hawaii are put at risk when dealing with foreign sourced food that is not properly handled or inspected.

      A friend of mine who worked for the US Embassy in Indonesia was inspecting an exporter of fish products to the US. The factory conditions he found were appalling and found boxes marked “JAPAN”. He shut down that exporter in a heartbeat, but not before he was offered a significant bribe not to do so.

      The same can be said for the terrible conditions of other seafood imported from China, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines which put American consumers at risk every day. From unsafe food handling practices, bacteria laden ponds and rampant use of antibiotics, we are playing Russian roulette with our consumption of foreign seafood. The anti-GMO folks would be up in arms if they only knew what they are eating every day.

  • Strange that none of Genki’s workers became ill. I wonder why it took so long to identify Genki Sushi as the source, I mean how many restaurants could all those sick people have had in common? The CDC sent some people to assist the health dept. last week, I’m betting it was them that tracked it down. Hawaii state government has become largely incompetent, that’s what happens when you have a single party political system that favors the unionized public workers over the general public.

        • It’s simple. You guys have no idea what it takes to diagnose the cause of hepatitis A outbreaks. You have no training or expertise. The only knowledge you have is what the movies give you and the gall to think you deserve better because you live in the USA. It’s called entitlement. I know better than the CDC. I know better than the police. I know better than my kids public school teachers. Same story. Same old whining.

        • I suspect the narrowing down of suspects was greatly aided by the neighbor island folks who came down with the disease. Since they were on Oahu for a specific number of days, they probably could better recount what, where and when they ate. If you think about your last vacation, you can probably generally remember if you try hard enough which restaurants you ate at on a given day. When you are at home, you probably have a harder time remembering because everything tends to blend together, especially when asked to go back two weeks or more. When you are on vacation, your meals are probably a little more deliberately planned. If I had to bet, I think that simple aspect had a lot to do with cracking the case, not any special CSI or CDC magic per se. Let’s not be so fast to denigrate our health department workers who literally started with data points that were akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack. The CDC folks likely helped but I’m guessing the pinpointing process was already starting to accelerate by then so I wouldn’t necessarily give them credit at the expense of our own department of health.

        • Yes, the police knows more about mailbox theft than anyone else and Hawaii public school teachers know so much that many parents contribute to Hawaii having some of the highest rates of private school attendance in the nation. And ONLY in a ‘single party political system’ could a city build a $10-20 BILLION train to nowhere project, and does NOT take a rail ‘expert’ to know that with 100% certainty will be a complete endless money pit failure that will INCREASE traffic gridlock on Oahu. And what is REALLY sad is many people because of lemming behavior continue to vote for the SAME people who skrew them and pretend to be their benevolent leader who tells everyone they ‘know better’ and have superior ‘training and expertise’

        • People should not hire a personal trainer who looks totally out of shape nor do you get a tattoo from someone who has no tattoos or the tattoos they have look terrible. Hawaii likes to pass so may laws so how about adding another requirement of getting the health green card about passing a law that requires any restaurant, food wagon and or any other food service worker to eat their own food that they prepare. The inspector will randomly choose a menu item like sashimi or other raw seafood or vegetable, the food must be prepared and then the employee or owner must sit down at a customer table and eat the food in front of the inspector. This sounds a bit ‘raw’ but unless food preparers are willing to eat what they serve to the public, they should not be given a passing grade for food safety.

    • Sometimes… You should really think-about-what-you-say first before actually saying it. Then maybe you can realize you sound ignorant. Hate to break it to you but CSI and those solve it in 30-minute shows aren’t real.

  • So if the source is the scallops, and they used the same gloves to make the spicey ahi roll, does the spicey ahi roll now have the virus to spread. I’m assuming yes. They don’t change gloves between all different types of sushi. One glove makes all.

    • Should be ok. I personally, will not eat any raw fish or raw fruits or vegetables. Too many instances of “stomach flu” that happened after I ate something raw.

  • The tainted scallops are probably from the People’s Republic of China. Warning: Do not consume any food, liquid or powdered products from PRC. If possible do not purchase non-food items from there also.

    • “…do not purchase non-food items from there (People’s Republic of China) also.”
      Don’t purchase non-food items from China??!! That’d put every business in the U.S. out of business.

  • This news is the death knell for Genki Sushi as most Hawaii residents will avoid patronizing them once they are allowed to reopen. Let this be a lesson to all food outlets to ascertain the quality and safety of all food ingredients that are imported from foreign countries, especially items from the People’s Republic of China, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia, and to a certain extent food items from Japan.

    • Actually, no. They’re all going to make extra sure everything is extra clean for the next few months and that all of their suppliers are reliable because of this. I won’t hesitate to eat there (in a couple of weeks).

    • Impractical. People will contract diseases, people will get food poisoned. Doesn’t matter how many inspectors you have, how many placards you put up, how many permits you sell. You eat, you risk something. You walk out your door you risk something. You take a shower…you risk something. Only our litigious society and the huge amounts of law school graduates will have you believe you can regulate and litigate problems away. We have taken the word “accountability” and turned it into a legal euphemism for “who is going to cut the checks to pay us out”.

  • Didn’t the ignorant Heath dept head just resign before this news? Such overpaid idiots. Have to import CDC at extra costs to come up with this in one week.

  • Thanks to those that worked so hard to discover the source of this Hepatitis A outbreak. Now, the real work begins. Seafood is not regulated by federal or state inspectors. Time to look into inspection, regulation and periodic testing of seafood products. Commercial vessels are dirty and staffed by crews that never undergo health inspections. DLNR and the State Health Department should take a hint from this and get those long line boats in proper order. Glad it was not worse.

  • I’m glad they found out where it’s coming from. The reporters really have to think about what they say though. I can’t believe the TV reporter asked the customer if she would go back to Genki Sushi. (She said No.) That’s a loaded question for a reporter to ask. They need to understand these are businesses, not criminals, and that kind of publicity really hurts the business. So you’re gonna have someone say they are never going back to a restaurant who is not at fault for having the tainted scallops? Not even if they get rid of everything, clean and sanitize the stores, and get cleared by DOH? Deliver the facts only, not opinions.

    • I agree. That is why I stopped buying their food a long time ago. Their fish and shrimp smells old and is dried out. Based on customers comments Genki is in denial, not saying why they are closing and encouraging customers to order up before leaving.

  • So I’ve eaten there numerous times since the outbreak with my kids. We all had the mayo scallops! What do I do now. Great to report this but where’s the information on what to do if you ate this product.

  • A lot of those “Previous Frozen” seafood such as Fish, Shrimp,Oysters, clams, scallops, crab, lobster. You take a big risk since they are all imports to the State from other countries with lower sanitary requirements. That’s why you buy local.

  • I would not say local seafood or other food products are safe. I noticed that Tamashiro market had an employee who had Hepatitas A– he could easily spread it to others and to the food given the long incubation period for Hep A. Once the disease spreads from those who ate the scallops it can infect those who work with food products and spread. Hep A is a very tough virus– it can live on surfaces for two weeks and it is highly contagious. Hep A outbreaks are rare. The criticism of food inspection suggests we need more inspectors– that department like most state departments have shrunk as the number of government workers has shrunk.

    • That’s exactly why they shut down, had all employees tested, and threw out all the raw seafood. I’m assuming they cleaned the place floor to ceiling as well. I just picked up some poke from there this past weekend, and the place looked cleaner than before.

  • The information reported thus far lack much detail. If the scallops were indeed the source of HepA at Genki Sushi, where else were these scallops sold.
    In addition, are the workers at Genki Sushi all being required to undergo testing? Given that HepA is highly contagious, are the restaurants all being throughly cleaned.
    Although it is good that the original source of the infection has been pinpointed the number of people who have been exposed is large enough where they are now going to be
    secondary sources of infection and so this HepA outbreak is not over. If anything, it is likely there will be a continuing problem and the number of infected will go up exponentially.
    I hope not but I would expect this to happen since it took the DOH so long to nail down the source of the infection.
    it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, and we are far from that at this time.

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