Genki Sushi Reopens After Being Linked to Hepatitis A Source

State Health Department clears sushi chain after massive cleanup.
Genki Sushi


The state Health Department cleared Genki Sushi Restaurants to reopen after the company extensively cleaned its facilities and tested and vaccinated all employees in response to an outbreak of hepatitis A that was traced to frozen scallops served by the chain.


“The management team of Genki Sushi restaurants on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i has given us their full cooperation, and the department is confident that they are in compliance with all health regulations,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler on Sept. 9.


“Genki Sushi has been cleared by the Department of Health to reopen to the public,” Pressler said. As of the latest update, the state health department confirmed 252 cases of hepatitis A, which included 11 new cases in recent days. All the cases have been adults, and 66 of them required hospitalization.


The company said that the 10 O‘ahu restaurants would open Sept. 10, while the Kaua‘i restaurant would remain closed to undergo renovations that were already underway when the Health Department ordered the chain to close. That was on Aug. 16 after the primary source of the hepatitis A outbreak was traced to frozen scallops imported from the Philippines that were served raw on sushi at Genki.


“Serving safe, high-quality food is always our top priority and we deeply regret that the ongoing investigation by the Department of Health is indicating that customers may have become ill from a food product that our restaurants on Oahu and Kauai received from a distributor,” said Mary Hansen, chief administrative officer for Genki Sushi USA.


Genki officials said the company employs more than 350 employees and that those scheduled to work in the affected restaurants were screened, tested and vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus subject to state health department standards and all of the test results were negative.


Hansen said: “It is very reassuring that none of our employees tested positive for the virus and we are happy that they can get back to work when the restaurants reopen. At the same time, our hearts go out to those who have the illness and hope for their speedy recovery.”


A spokesman said the restaurant would not be serving scallops when it reopens. 


The product was sold as Sea Port Bay Scallops, originated in the Philippines and distributed by Koha Oriental Foods and True World Foods, officials said. Genki restaurants on other islands use a different supplier.


Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection that can cause an illness ranging from a mild case of a few day to a severe illness. The virus is found in the stool of people with the infection and is usually spread by eating contaminated food or water or by close contact with an infected person. The incubation period can last up to 50 days.


Read More Stories by Robbie Dingeman