Genki Sushi works to resolve hepatitis A issues before restaurants can reopen

Local News

Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai are still closed.

Last Monday, the Department of Health ordered the popular restaurants to close because of a link to Hawaii’s hepatitis A outbreak.

Tests by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed raw scallops they served had hepatitis A in them.

The DOH told KHON2 Genki has already completed most of the cleaning requirements needed before reopening, and mandatory hepatitis A testing of workers is underway.

“We’ve been to most of them already,” said Peter Oshiro, DOH environmental health program manager. “Genki has completed all the cleanup, nearly 95 percent of it.”

Oshiro said the next step toward reopening is testing all employees for the virus.

“Because all of the Genki employees are considered cases because they may have been exposed to hepatitis A, all the employees need to get screened negative prior to going back to work,” he said.

Oshiro said the test will determine if an employee is infected despite the incubation period.

If the test comes back negative, the employee is encouraged to get the vaccine before returning to work, however it’s not required.

If an employee got the hepatitis A vaccine before the start of the outbreak and has the records to prove it, they’re cleared for work too.

The state’s Disease Outbreak Control Division oversees the medical screening process.

“Their epidemiologists are responsible for checking all the vaccination and medical paperwork,” Oshiro said.

All employees are also required to take a food handling and personal health and hygiene course taught by the DOH.

The affected locations on Oahu and Kauai have already been scrubbed clean and the DOH said all food and items like cups, napkins and silverware were tossed out.

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, Genki Sushi released a statement on the status of its affected restaurants:

Since being notified by the Department of Health (DOH) of its decision to temporarily close 10 Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and one on Kauai on Aug. 15, the company has been working cooperatively with the department to take the required steps to comply with health standards and resume business.

“While our goal is to reopen our restaurants as soon as possible, Genki Sushi’s top priority is the health and safety of our customers, employees and the community,” said Mary Hansen, chief administrative officer, Genki Sushi USA. “Since the Department of Health announced the source of the illness was a food product that was received from a distributor, we have been working closely with state health officials to take the necessary actions to ensure all of our restaurants meet or exceed DOH guidelines and requirements.”

In addition to discarding produce, open packages of food, and single-serve equipment and utensils, as well as thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the restaurants according to DOH standards, the company has been focused on ensuring all of its employees in the impacted restaurants are screened and vaccinated. The testing and vaccination results of the 358 employees will be compiled and provided to the DOH for their review and certification. The company hopes to have all of the employee screenings and vaccinations completed as soon as possible subject to the logistics of screening such a large number of employees at once.

“We appreciate our customers’ understanding and support as we continue to focus on preparing our restaurants to reopen so that customers can have confidence in the safety and quality of the food we serve,” said Hansen.

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