Correction: This story was updated to reflect that Health Department officials said Tuesday that they embargoed frozen raw scallops from Koha Oriental Foods, which had supplied them to Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai. The department also halted distribution of the same product by True World Foods before the company started to supply the scallops to Genki Sushi restaurants on Maui and Hawaii island. No hepatitis A cases have been tied to the True World shipments. An earlier version of this story and in Tuesday’s print edition incorrectly reported that Genki Sushi received the tainted scallops through True World Foods, based on initial information from the health department.
The state Department of Health ordered the immediate, temporary closure of all Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai on Monday after determining that the recent hepatitis A outbreak on Oahu was likely due to imported frozen scallops served raw at Genki locations on both islands.
There are 10 Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and one on Kauai.
DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the link to scallops served at the restaurants came from an intensive epidemiological investigation.
The final determination that the scallops were the “likely source” came Monday afternoon.
“We moved (to close the restaurants) pretty quickly after that,” Okubo said by telephone.
The Health Department said Tuesday that they had embargoed frozen raw scallops from Koha Oriental Foods, which had supplied them to Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai. The department has also halted distribution of the same product by True World Foods before the company started supplying the scallops to Genki Sushi restaurants on Maui and Hawaii island. They said no hepatitis A cases have been tied to the True World Foods’ scallops and that all the scallops will be destroyed.
Genki representatives were unavailable for comment Monday.
There have been 168 confirmed cases of hepatitis A in the state dating back to June.
According to the department’s Disease Outbreak Control Division, all the cases have been in adults, with 46 of them requiring hospitalization.
The majority of confirmed cases have been on Oahu.
Eight individuals who came down with the disease live on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai and Maui, while one visitor has returned to the mainland.
The onset of illness for individual cases has ranged between June 12 and Aug. 1.
Brant Mauk, 31, of Pearl City was hospitalized in July after contracting hepatitis A.
Prior to his illness, Mauk frequented Genki Sushi, where he usually ordered scallops.
“I am happy that the source was found so that we can stop the spread of hepatitis A and implement new procedures to prevent this type of outbreak (from) happening again,” Mauk said.
The DOH has been assisted in its investigation by a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who arrived in Honolulu on Aug. 7.
State health officials have also been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to identify problems with food products elsewhere and to examine distributors and food establishments locally that might have received the suspected products.
The DOH previously said that identifying the source of infection was particularly challenging because of the long incubation period of the disease and the difficulty patients have in accurately recalling the foods consumed and locations visited during the period when infection could have taken place.
In an effort to prevent the potential spread of the disease, the DOH has been identifying eating establishments that have an employee diagnosed with hepatitis A.
Genki Sushi was not one of the nine business previously identified.
Hepatitis A is a viral ailment affecting the liver that comes from consuming contaminated fruits, vegetables or other foods, or raw shellfish harvested from contaminated water. The symptoms, which can appear weeks after exposure, include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, a low-grade fever, dark urine, joint pain and jaundice — a yellowing of the skin and eyes.