Genki Sushi announced today it has received approval from the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) to reopen its restaurants after full compliance with the department’s strict conditions, including confirmation that none of its employees scheduled to work for the reopening tested positive for hepatitis A. Genki Sushi will reopen all 10 of its restaurants on Oahu tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 10). Genki’s only restaurant on Kauai will remain closed temporarily to complete renovations already underway.
“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. “After being informed by the Department of Health of its decision to temporarily close some of our restaurants while it investigated the source of the illness, we worked cooperatively with health officials to take the necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of our customers, our employees and the community. We are now pleased to reopen our Oahu restaurants and appreciate the understanding and support of our customers during this period.”
Genki has been closely communicating with DOH to determine what the company needed to do in order to eliminate any potential sources of the infection from its restaurants and meet specific requirements from the DOH to resume operations.
“The management team of Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai has given us their full cooperation, and the department is confident that they are in compliance with all health regulations,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the Hawaii Department of Health. “Genki Sushi has been cleared by the Department of Health to reopen to the public.”
While DOH directives only called for the disposal of opened containers or packages of food items that may have been exposed, Genki Sushi made the decision to discard all produce and food items that could have been exposed, and sanitized sealed food packages as specified by the DOH. In addition, all single-serve equipment or utensils such as napkins, chopsticks, cups and takeout containers were also discarded.
Following state guidelines, all food and non-food-contact surfaces throughout each of the restaurants were completely disinfected with DOH-approved sanitizing formulas. The surfaces, including counters, machines, equipment, floors and walls throughout the kitchens, dining rooms, restrooms and employee areas were scrubbed and rinsed.
“We greatly appreciate the ongoing assistance and guidance provided by the Department of Health throughout this situation as we focused on the common goal of protecting the public’s health,” said Hansen.
All employees scheduled to work in the impacted restaurants were screened, tested and vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus subject to DOH standards and all of the test results were negative. The DOH also conducted food safety classes for Genki employees at each restaurant site which were based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) manual on hygiene and food safety. Genki Sushi will continue to follow the FDA manual on hygiene and food safety in addition to the company’s regular employee training and policies.
“Our entire staff has shown tremendous resiliency and teamwork in doing what was needed to reopen our restaurants so we can continue to serve our customers in the safest manner possible,” said Hansen. “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.
“Genki Sushi is a longtime member of the local community with over 350 enthusiastic employees, and our restaurants have been venues for countless birthday and graduation parties and family get-togethers. We want to make sure that our customers can rest assured when they come in for sushi that they will be served safe, high-quality food,” added Hansen.
Genki Sushi remains committed to continuing to enforce its food safety and sanitation program and will work with health officials to make any recommended improvements to its policies and procedures. These efforts include continuing to require all of its managers to be ServSafe certified, a training program administered by the National Restaurant Association.
Genki is also taking additional steps beyond required state rules to ensure the long-term health and safety of its restaurants. Genki will also work with all its vendors to improve food safety policies and procedures. The company will continue to require that all its vendors are certified and follow Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) management systems for addressing food safety and handling, as well as FDA and DOH policies and regulations.