New rules impact Hawaii's sushi restaurants

New rules impact Hawaii's sushi restaurants
Published: Jul. 22, 2014 at 10:31 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 23, 2014 at 3:28 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A day after the launch of new color-coded placards, restaurants are taking action. Inspectors returned to a few spots on Tuesday to switch the signs.

Nico's Pier 38 was packed a day after the restaurant received a yellow placard for having at least two major violations. An inspector confirmed the changes the following day and upgraded the sign to green.

"I was surprised because we never had any violations for the past 10 years in the business so I'm like, 'What?' When I found out why it was so minor I was like, 'Ok, I can fix that. It's easy,'" said owner Nico Chaize.

Chaize said the problems involved the cooking line temperature and the sanitizer for pots and pans. Other places upgraded from yellow to green on Tuesday included La Tour Cafe on Nimitz Highway and Grand Cafe and Bakery downtown.

"If they want to be picky like they were yesterday, it's good because it's going to give everybody a check for all the restaurants out there," said Chaize.

Another major change under the new rules will impact sushi restaurants. No bare hand contact is allowed with ready to eat food. Mitch's Fish Market and Sushi bar has already applied for an exemption so the chefs won't have to use gloves.

"They can't get a feel for the rice, firstly. Secondly, they don't want any cross-contamination with different species of fish. So every time they cut a different fish, they do wash their hands," said owner Craig Mitchell.

But the exemption will require detailed documentation of hand washing.

"It's going to be a bit of a hassle, but for us to present the fish in its finest form, we feel it's best to use the bare hand," said Mitchell.

Food safety expert Tom Frigge performs audits for restaurants. With the new crackdown, business is booming.

"Let's just say my business is up quite a bit this year over last year. Everybody is panicking and I have people on wait lists all over the place," said Frigge.

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