Food safety laws
Compliance with food laws is an essential factor in the food industry, the food and safety regulations enforced by the authorities ensures there is a continuous inspection of food products to ensure they meet the required standards. Food safety laws are applicable at each stage of food and beverage preparation including the initial stages of the process to the late stages of distributions. Food safety laws ensure that restaurants engage in the safe preparation of foods, serving and proper storage of food to promote public health. The quality of food and beverages is a crucial factor in the food industry, with the increasing concerns about controlling diseases associated with food, the need to follow food safety regulations is widely emphasized. In the food industry, most of the regulations revolve around the source of food which is expected to be from a safe and trusted source, safe temperature for the food, proper cooking and handling and hand washing as part of the safety regulations. Moreover, regular inspections ensure that vendors comply with the food safety measures and help protect the public health (LaBelle-Tun, 2015).
Sushi restaurants are particularly good restaurants where one can enjoy a perfect meal. However, there has been increasing concerns about the hazardous nature of the food offered in these restaurants; this has prompted many organizations and law enforcers to formulate regulations to help minimize any hazards. The ready to eat sushi is a remarkable meal for people who love this type of meal; the rice served with fish is a meal that utilizes traditional methods to make it unique. Sushi rice is stored or held at a specific room temperature mostly the room temperature to help provide a suitable temperature for the growth of Pathogenic bacteria. Usually, Sushi is a meal that is composed of fermented rice and fish. Over time, this ready to eat delicacy has become a health concern; most health providers regard sushi as a potentially hazardous food that predisposes one to foodborne diseases. There is an increasing concern for the underlying medical threat behind the consumption of sushi; the health risk of sushi can be traced back to the type of raw seafood products that are used in the preparation of sushi alongside the acidified sushi.
According to research, raw seafood contains a lot of parasites in their infective form which makes sushi a hazardous food. Therefore, food safety regulations were formulated to help protect the public health from infective parasites. These food safety regulations include;
Regulations on receiving and storing foods
The first step in protecting the health of the public is ensuring the food meets the necessary requirements such as being obtained from approved sources. Food safety regulations require sushi restaurants to get seafood products from approved and reputable sources only. Food purchased should be closely monitored after purchase; frozen seafood should have written documentation to indicate that the products from the supplier meet the required standards and meets the parasite reduction freezing obligations. Food regulatory authorities emphasize that there is a need for vigilance because hermetically sealed containers may also pose a health hazard if they are swelled or leaking, moreover, rusted, dented or pitted cans should not be used because they are a potential health hazard. The source of some food products used in the preparation of sushi is significant in determining the safety of consuming such products because there exist microorganisms in waters where these food products are harvested or stored which may pose a medical threat, vendors are required to maintain a list of suppliers to help keep track of their inventory. The regulatory commissions require the vendors to provide the details of the suppliers for all foods and a valid receipt that bears the name of the suppliers and the date of purchase, therefore, items that fail to meet the receipt requirements should be returned to the supplier. The minimum durations to retain seafood tags are 90 days.
The source of molluscan fish is of concern, this fish is regularly consumed raw and therefore, does not receive any form of heat treatment that destroys pathogens. Therefore, the authorities require the restaurants to obtain certified written documentation that the source of the shellfish is from waters with the expected quality. Moreover, certification is imperative because it shows the processing; packaging and transportation met the sanitary regulations.
Regulations on handling ready Sushi
Handling of food products is the most important part of the food industry; sushi vendors are obliged to comply with the regulations on the handling of ready sushi. Regulatory commissions require that sushi vendor or restaurants only to accept sushi that has been transported in refrigerated vehicles. The temperature of holding sushi is a great concern, most food regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emphasize on checking the temperatures, vendors are advised to check the temperature of the sushi whenever they receive a batch, and the acceptable temperature is 5 degrees or less. FDA outlines that certain species of fish such as the tuna and the Mollusca shellfish that are to be consumed raw should be properly frozen before they are served. Sushi must also be handled properly by covering during receipt and when storing the sushi to prevent cross contamination. Sushi should be refrigerated at 5 degrees.
Regulations on handling Molluscan Shellfish as hazardous products
This type of fish is hazardous; the pathogens (bacteria and viruses) present in the waters where these fish are harvested are in their infective form and can cause illness in consumers. The Molluscan Shellfish are often harvested in environments that are characterized by sewerage and are consumed raw or sometimes partially cooked. Sushi restaurants should harvest these fish from the allowed water sources where experts have conducted water quality assessment. This will protect the public from the harmful pathogens that are present in the waters. The Shellfish Control Authorities restricts the harvest of shellfish from waters where they have not done an assessment of water quality; this helps protect the general public because harvesting is done in allowed areas that are not contaminated with naturally occurring bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) minimizes the risk of illness attributed to consumption of raw shellfish by administering the national shellfish sanitation program; this action plan aims at improving shellfish safety (Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 2009). Moreover, states are required to monitor the waters to ensure that the shellfish are safe for consumption before they are harvested for use at the sushi restaurants that serve raw fish.
Regulations on the Preparation of Sushi
The handling of food products during the preparation of sushi is one of the most important steps in safeguarding the public from foodborne illness. In the preparation of sushi, the food regulatory commissions recommend that there should be the careful handling of the food products that are involved. Preparing sushi demands a great deal of work to prepare both raw and cooked foods. However, sushi is eaten while raw and does not need any cooking; therefore, it is of great concern to prepare it correctly and safely. Regulations and food safety tips such as periodically cleaning and sanitizing the sushi rolling machines help remove the buildup of bacteria and rice which may be hazardous. Moreover, it is important to clean the utensils and equipment to remove the buildup of rice and other ingredients used in the preparation of the sushi. All utensils that are to be used in the preparation of sushi should be sanitized to prevent cross-contamination through the surfaces and utensils. The bamboo and plastic mats that are used in the preparation of sushi should be sanitized daily; the bamboo mats should be covered with a cling wrap which should be changed every 2hours for sanitization (Davis, 2012).
The preparation of acidified rice should meet the legislations that are outlined by the food administration bodies. Rice to be served must be cooked before acidification and then cooled to temperatures of 5 degrees rapidly upon taking it out of the cooker. Public health is a major concern for most health organizations. Therefore, there is need to ensure that the acidified rice is prepared properly to make it safe for use, rice that is acidified to a pH lower than 4.6 will prevent the growth of the pathogenic bacteria. Rice should be acidified as soon as it is removed from the gas cooker. Moreover, the guidelines on the preparation of sushi require the restaurants to keep the fish to be served raw refrigerated until used to minimize the hazard associated with consumption of these foods.
Laws on Food Products and Ingredient Contamination
Packaging and Unpacking Food Products
Sorting and packaging of the food products must be appropriate to prevent the entry of microbes or chemicals which may damage the integrity of the food. These regulations ensure safety during separation, packaging, and segregation; food should be packaged adequately to help protect the packed food products. Foods that are contained in damaged packaging may be infected with microbes which may pose a health threat. All containers used in transporting the food products must be labeled to help identify certain foods that may not be easily identified when removed from their original packaging.
Regulations on Additives
Food control organizations have formulated laws that require restaurants acquire supplies from sources that are reliable and meet the chemical and contaminants laws. Food additives are strictly regulated; excessive amounts are greatly discouraged because they can be harmful to the consumers.
Regulations on Contamination of the Food Products
Food regulatory commissions such as FDA imposed restrictions on the handling of food by workers as a preventive strategy. The National Advisory Committee on Microbial Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) research provided evidence on the handling of foods with bare hands as the cause of increased transmission of illness and recommended proper hand washing and limited hand contact with any food products that are served raw. The rise of microbial infections triggered a national concern on how to manage the infections. Cross contamination was identified as one of the media through which foodborne illness was transmitted; hand contact with the food products that are served raw was one of the reasons for increased transmission of foodborne illness. Center for Disease Control (CDC) outlines foodborne illness as devastating in the US, the rate of transmission of viruses is high especially where handling of food products involves workers. Sushi Restaurants are required to observe these regulations to prevent transmission of pathogens; these restaurants are supposed to observe food hygiene and ensure that there is hand contact with the ready to eat food products. Moreover, the restaurant safety regulations require the employees to wash their hands regularly before preparing or serving food (Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 2009).
Regulations on potentially Hazardous Raw Ingredients
Seafood products that are intended to be served raw should be frozen at a temperature of -20 degrees for up to seven days or be frozen to -35 degrees for fifteen hours to help destroy the infective form of the parasites. Frozen products received should be kept in the freezer immediately; moreover, shelf-stable foods like uncooked rice, wasabi powder, and seaweed should be properly covered to prevent cross contamination. FDA outlines that sushi restaurants should only receive potentially hazardous food if it has been transported under temperature control. Moreover, the received hazardous food should be put in the refrigerated storage of about 5 degrees. Food regulatory commissions also restrict the use of other types of meat for sushi; it recommends the use sushi grade tuna or fish for raw fish sushi. Moreover, no raw foods should be placed above the ready to eat food to avoid any juices from dripping onto them; all foods should be covered during receipt to help protect against contamination.
Restaurants are obliged to comply with the laws and regulations enforced by FDA; hazardous products are to be handled with a lot of care to prevent the transmission of foodborne illnesses. The food safety regulations enforced by FDA helps protect the public from the hazards that are associated with seafood when the laws are not observed. FDA outlines regulations on temperatures, packaging, and transportation of food products used in the preparation of sushi.
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2009). Food Code – FDA Food Code 2009: Annex 3 – Public Health Reasons / Administrative Guidelines – Chapter 3, Food. Retrieved April 29, 2017, from https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/retailfoodprotection/foodcode/ucm189211.htm
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2009). Food Code – FDA Food Code 2009: Annex 3 – Public Health Reasons / Administrative Guidelines – Chapter 8, Compliance and Enforcement. Retrieved April 29, 2017, from https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/ucm189216.htm
Davis, B. (2012). Food and beverage management. London: Routledge.
LaBelle-Tun, C. (2015). Is My Sushi Safe? Why Government Regulation Is Coming to Sushi. Retrieved April 29, 2017, from http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/is-my-sushi-safe-why-government-regulation-is-coming-to-sushi/