Embargo Imposed on Scallops Linked to Hepatitis Outbreak

Frozen scallops Hepatitis A outbreak Hawaii
One of 11 Genki Sushi locations closed after being identified as the source of a major Hepatitis A outbreak. The outbreak has already sickened at least 168, and officials anticipate that number will continue to grow.

The Hawaii Department of Health embargoed all frozen scallops distributed by True World Foods and Koha Oriental Foods on Tuesday. The embargo comes due to a link between scallops and an ongoing widespread outbreak of Hepatitis A. Distributors also say the scallops only went to Genki Sushi, a chain restaurant that closed 11 locations Monday evening.

Frozen Scallops from the Philippines Source of 168 Person Outbreak

As a result of the Department of Health investigation, officials discovered the scallops responsible for the outbreak came from the Philippines. In addition, they found that Koha Oriental Foods distributed the affected seafood on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kauai.

More specifically, the department linked the outbreak to Koha Oriental Foods’ “Sea Port Bay Scallops (Wild Harvest, Raw Frozen).” The boxes containing the product read “Product of the Philippines,” clearly denoting their origin.

Additionally, the department identified and stopped shipment of the infected seafood to two more islands. The department’s quick action likely prevented additional cases of the virus.

Department of Health Orders Scallop Embargo, Closes Restaurants

Dr. Virginia Pressler, the department’s Health Director, discussed the source of the outbreak in the official press release. In addition to highlighting the link between scallops and Hepatitis A, Pressler also announced the embargo. Once the department determined the source, it “immediately notified [the restaurants], ordered the embargo of the frozen scallop product, and the closure of all Oahu and Kauai facilities.

The frozen scallop embargo restricts the use, sale, and distribution of the product. The distributor collaborated with the department to enforce the embargo on Tuesday.

Because Oahu and Kauai locations handled the scallops, the department ordered the restaurants on those islands to close immediately. Koha Oriental Foods historically distributed frozen scallops to the locations on those two islands.

Race Against the Clock: Stopping Recently Expanded Distribution to Other Islands

The infected scallops in the Oahu and Kauai stores arrived from Koha Oriental Foods. However, True World Foods very recently started distribution of the same products to Genki Sushi locations on Maui and Hawaii.

The Health Department announced at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that it successfully embargoed those frozen scallops “before they were sent out from the Oahu warehouse” of True World Food, and none of that product went to Genki Sushi restaurants on Maui or Hawaii island.

According to public health officials, the Hawaii office of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – responsible for regulating imported food – has been brought in to further investigate the products’ origin.

If you or a family member became ill have been diagnosed with Hepatitis A and you would like to explore pursuing a legal claim, contact an attorney at Ron Simon & Associates for a free case evaluation by calling 1-888-335-4901 or filling out our free case evaluation form.


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