According to Japan press reports, Yasuhiro Kanzaka, president of Foods Forus Co., which runs the Yakiniku-zakaya Ebisu chain, has admitted his company had not tested raw meat served at its outlets for bacteria, as required by the health ministry, since 2009. The restaurant chain has been linked to 56 E. coli O111 illnesses and now three deaths. In the U.S. of course E. coli is not considered an adulterant and there are no governmental testing requirements, although, as I have argued, it should be.
A woman died Wednesday of E. coli O111 complications linked to a raw meat dish at a restaurant chain in central Japan, bringing the total number of deaths in the past week to three. The woman had eaten yukhoe, similar to tartare, at the same restaurant in Tonami, Toyama prefecture, where a 6-year-old boy had fallen ill and died Friday after eating the same dish. Another boy died a week ago in Fukui prefecture after eating the same dish at another of the company’s restaurants. Both boys were infected with E coli O111 strain.
I am in D.C. attending The Future of Food Conference sponsored by the Sustainable Food Trust. Although, the focus of the conference is not on food safety as I deal with it on a daily basis, USDA Secretary Vilsack, and Charles, the Prince of Wales (and many other dignitaries in the foodie or foodist biz) will be speaking. Perhaps I might be able to ask the Secretary if he might learn something from the Japanese E. coli O111 outbreak – before it happens – again – here.