This Week in Food News: Deadly Oysters, Sushi Scandals, and More
Oysters pose a deadly risk, whale meat lands two sushi chefs in jail, and a McDonald’s franchise gets a taste of fine dining in this week’s food news installment. Read below for the full stories:
Oyster lovers, brace yourselves for some bad news. Vibriosis, a deadly disease linked to raw oysters, may strike with greater frequency as the ocean gets warmer. Vibrio bacteria, which proliferate in warm water, have been found to triple in number for every 1-degree increase in temperature of water. Lead vibrio researcher for University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, Glenn Morris, stated that incidence of the disease has doubled since 1998. With accumulating evidence pointing to climate change as a major catalyst for the rise in vibriosis, scientists believe that the bacteria will continue to spread and grow. While the disease is still very rare (there are about 30 cases in the U.S. annually), vibriosis has a high mortality rate, killing about half of its victims in a gruesome manner. Its most dangerous strains are linked predominantly to oysters from the Gulf of Mexico. In past years, the FDA has “threatened to ban the sale of Gulf oysters in the summer” and toyed with the notion of requiring Gulf oysters to undergo extra treatments. Implementing extra regulations can have serious economic consequences on the $500 million industry. Readers, how do you think this issue should be handled?
Two Santa Monica sushi chefs are embroiled in a scandal after being accused of selling endangered whale meat. Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda, former sushi chefs of The Hump (which has been closed since 2010) are being charged of selling the meat of Sei whales acquired from a Japanese fish supplier. In an attempt to stay under the radar, restaurant invoices for the whale meat were purposefully labeled as “fatty tuna,” while The Hump’s menu omitted mention of the ingredient from dishes containing the whale. Yamamoto and Ueda, who had avoided similar charges in 2010, were reported to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration where the charges were refiled. Yamamoto and Ueda could face a “statutory maximum penalty of 67 and 10 years in federal prison respsectively” and parent company Typhoon Restaurant Inc. faces fines of up to $1.2 million.
In lighter news, a McDonald’s location in Warilla, Australia has taken their fast food franchise to a whole new level with the inclusion of table service, plates and cutlery. The idea came into fruition when franchisee, Glenn Dwarte, served his parents and mother-in-law McDonald’s meals in that fashion during their weekly restaurant visits. When other customers took notice and expressed interest, Dwarte and his wife and franchisee partner, Katia, pitched the idea to a McDonald’s Australia chief executive Catriona Noble. Noble was taken by the idea, and received approval from the Chicago headquarters to start a five-week trial. So far, diners have been very receptive to the changes. Do you think these changes could become the new standard for McDonald’s franchises?