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'Unacceptable': 76 breaches of food safety rules found in major audit of sushi producers

The FSAI found that 90% of the businesses audited did not have adequate controls in place to safeguard human health.

Image: Shutterstock/Robert Przybysz

THE FOOD SAFETY Authority has found an “unacceptable” level of non-compliance by 11 sushi production and processing facilities in Ireland following a targeted audit.

In the audit of sushi manufacturers, restaurants and takeaways there were 76 breaches of food safety regulations found.

The FSAI said that 90% of the businesses audited did not have adequate controls in place to safeguard human health and of the 11 premises audited, only one had no breaches of food safety and hygiene legislation. 

According to Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI, raw fish from both freshwater and saltwater can be a potential source of human infection due to the presence of parasites so 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

“There has been rapid growth in demand for sushi, which can be perceived as a healthy food option by consumers. Our audit sought to establish if food safety controls were being followed and the findings are very concerning,” she said. 

The audit focussed on the food safety controls in place regarding the freezing of fish for parasite control and time/temperature controls, and pH controls for acidified sushi rice. 

The findings revealed that three-quarters of the food businesses did not have adequate food safety controls in place for this. A total of 75% of food businesses that should have been freezing fish for parasite control did not meet this specific legislative requirement.

“We also found poor traceability records, which are critical in the event of a food recall, if required.  The poor standards overall are worrying and suggest a lack of awareness by the sector as a whole of the serious food safety risks that sushi can pose if there are inadequate food safety controls in place,” Dr Byrne said. 

FSAI Sushi Infographic 2019 Source: FSAI

Some of the findings of the audit included:

  • Frozen fish being defrosted at room temperature, on countertops or in a bath of water
  • Freezers not capable of bringing temperatures to at least to -20˚C 
  • Freezers not operating at the correct temperature 
  • No temperature checks on incoming fresh and frozen fish
  • Operational and documented food safety controls and records were not adequate

The FSAI said that all premises in its audit have rectified the issues raised.and it has produced new advice on the safe production of sushi to assist sushi producers to comply with the law.

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Adam Daly

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