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Food Safety Guide for Sushi Bars

Meeting food hygiene regulations, food hygiene legislation, staff training and food hazards

Food Safety Guides » Food Safety Guide for Sushi Bars

In recent years, sushi has become increasingly popular in the UK. From well-known companies like Yo! Sushi with around 70 outlets in the UK, ISO Sushi and Sushi Daily, as well as other smaller lesser-known brands, sushi bars are now a feature in most high streets.

Many sushi bars are unique in the way that they present food, offering dishes on a kaiten conveyor belt with colour-coded dishes in typical Japanese style. The conveyor belt rotates through the restaurant, delivering fresh dishes directly to the tables, with diners choosing items as they travel past. The final bill is based on the type of plates and the number of dishes of sushi taken from the conveyor belt. Whilst this concept is exciting and fun, it could prove a logistical nightmare when it comes to food safety and hygiene.

The impact of cross-contamination, poor sanitation and below-par food safety can have devastating consequences. Sushi bars must therefore take food hygiene practices extremely seriously. Some people are particularly vulnerable to these concerns, particularly young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

This Food Safety and Hygiene Guide for Sushi Bars will provide advice on how to achieve good food safety and hygiene standards in a sushi bar as well as highlight why food hygiene and safety are of the utmost importance when running a thriving sushi bar business.

Food safety and hygiene legislation to follow for sushi bars

As a food and drink business, all sushi bars must follow certain food safety regulations to ensure that their customers are safe when eating and drinking their products. There are several enforceable laws to protect consumers in this regard. They are:

  • The Food Safety Act 1990 This Act provides a framework for all sushi bars and other food and drink establishments to follow. The Act ensures that sushi bars and other businesses do not put anything in food, remove anything from food, or treat food in ways that would mean it could be damaging to the health of those eating it. It also ensures that sushi bars serve or sell food that is of the substance, nature and quality that customers should expect and that food is labelled, presented and advertised in a way that is not misleading or false.
  • The Food Standards Act 1999 This Act establishes the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as the body that oversees food safety laws and legislation in the UK. Its main goal is to protect public health when it comes to food and gives the FSA the power to act in the consumers’ best interests during all stages of food production, processing and supply.
  • The Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations:
    The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
    – The Food Hygiene Regulations (Scotland) 2006
    – The Food Hygiene Regulations (Wales) 2006
    – The Food Hygiene Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006
  • The Food Information Regulations 2014
    – These regulations stipulate that businesses must provide allergen information if a food contains any of the 14 listed allergens.
    – These were amended by the Food Information (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2019 to include Natasha’s Law.
Sushi
Fish Sushi
Salmon Sushi

Natasha’s Law

Natasha’s Law came into force on 1 October 2021. This law is the legacy left following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a teenager who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a baguette from Pret a Manger.

Natasha died after eating an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette that she bought from Pret at Heathrow Airport in July 2016. On her flight, she began to feel ill and suffered a cardiac arrest. The baguette contained sesame baked into the dough which caused her body to go into anaphylactic shock. Despite her father administering two EpiPen injections, Natasha died the same day. Sesame was not listed as an ingredient on the packaging.

Before Natasha’s Law came into force, sushi bars and food establishments did not need to label foods with allergens if they were made on the premises. These foods are called prepacked for direct sale, or PPDS. They can be made and packaged at the same place they are sold or offered and placed in the packaging ready for sale. It includes foods from display units or fridges (as is the case with Pret a Manger) as well as other products from behind the counter or sold at temporary and mobile outlets. It’s important to note that this law relates to packaged foods only. If food isn’t packaged, it doesn’t require labelling, but the allergen information must still be readily available to the consumer.

Some examples of PPDS food include:

  • Sushi dishes which are packaged on-site before a customer orders or selects them.
  • Fast food that has been packaged before it is ordered. This includes things like sushi dishes and noodle dishes that are prepared and then kept under hot lamps until they are selected.
  • Sushi samples that are freely distributed as sample products, but which were previously packaged on-site.
  • Products that are packaged ready for sale such as sushi pots, salads and noodle dishes.

 

The label must include:

  • The name of the food item.
  • The ingredients list.
  • Any of the 14 allergens required by law, listed and emphasised.

What happens if legislation is not followed?

If a sushi bar does not follow food safety legislation, aside from the illness and harm it could cause to its customers, there are legal consequences too. The local authority may take legal action against the sushi bar. The consequences include fines, closure orders and even imprisonment of individuals responsible for the violations.

Aside from legal action, a sushi bar can also suffer in other ways:

  • Reputational damage – A sushi bar could suffer from negative publicity as a result of any legal action or word of mouth due to breaches in food safety legislation. This can impact the trust that customers have in the sushi bar, which can ultimately harm the bottom line.
  • Loss of customers – As a result of reputational damage or due to a poor food safety rating, customers may avoid a sushi bar. This will lead to reduced profitability which can have devastating financial consequences for a business.
  • Increased scrutiny – If a sushi bar has previously breached food safety legislation, it may be subject to increased scrutiny from the authorities. This can result in additional inspections and audits.
  • Loss of licences – Depending on the severity of the violations, a sushi bar may lose its licence to operate. This is a devastating outcome for a business and can lead to its complete closure.

 

Poor food hygiene cases

By their very nature, sushi bars with a kaiten conveyor belt like Yo! Sushi may pose additional risks when it comes to food hygiene. This is because the dishes rotate on a conveyor system and pass by all the diners before they are selected and then return to the kitchen, potentially for another loop.

In 2008, a report published by The Independent newspaper found that Yo! Sushi had the worst food hygiene rating amongst many food chains, with over 34% of its sushi bars failing to meet basic legal hygiene standards and being rated at two stars or less. Among the reports for individual sushi bars in the chain, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) at Yo! Sushi’s Soho branch found failures in defrosting, cooking, dirty floors, dirty staff changing areas, slime on the cutting boards, mice droppings on a food shelf and, to top it all, no records of any staff training. However, given that these findings were a fair few years ago, the issues at the Yo! Sushi bars affected have since been rectified.

More recently, in 2013, a sushi store owner was fined after she admitted eight food hygiene offences. The store, Jin Mi in New Malden, failed to control the risk of E. coli contamination by allowing customers the use of the same implements to serve raw and cooked meats as well as not keeping equipment and the premises clean. Additionally, there were no handwashing facilities for staff in the food preparation area and the sushi store workers were not wearing proper protective clothing. The owner, Sooryun Kim, was fined a total of £5,125 in fines for breaching the rules.

Staff Training on Food Hygiene for Sushi Bars

Staff training on food hygiene for sushi bars

Staff training on food hygiene is a legal requirement for all food businesses, including sushi bars. By law, all sushi bars must make sure that staff who handle, prepare or sell food are supervised and trained in food hygiene. This does not mean that every staff member needs to have a food hygiene certificate. However, evidence of food safety training is the best way to show customers and Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) that the sushi bar is putting its customers’ safety first. Having such training also provides evidence that a sushi bar has due diligence should it be investigated for breaches of food safety legislation.

Sushi bar staff should receive food hygiene training that is appropriate for their level of responsibility, their tasks and the area where they work.

Food hygiene training should include:

1. Personal hygiene
Staff should be trained on the importance of personal hygiene such as handwashing, covering cuts and wounds, and not working when ill.
2. Food storage
Staff should be trained on how to store food correctly, including temperature control and separation of raw and cooked foods.
3. Food preparation
Staff should be trained well on how to prepare food safely such as avoiding cross-contamination, cooking food thoroughly, and ensuring that food is not left out at room temperature for too long.
4. Cleaning and sanitation
Staff should be trained on proper cleaning and sanitation practices, including how to clean equipment and surfaces, and how to use cleaning products safely.
5. Food safety management
This should include the principles of food safety management, including hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), which is a systematic approach to identifying and controlling potential hazards in food production.

When it comes to food hygiene training and certification, there are three levels:

  • Level 1 – Level 1 is an introduction to food hygiene practices. This training is typically for those who handle low-risk foods such as foods that are already in packaging or already pre-prepared on-site. This level of certification is useful for waiting staff or front-of-house staff who are not in direct contact with the food.
  • Level 2 – Level 2 is a basic food hygiene certificate. This is a good choice of certification for staff who prepare, cook and handle foods. Most sushi bar workers will need Level 2 certification, particularly those who work in the kitchen.
  • Level 3 – Level 3 is classed as an intermediate food hygiene certificate. This is for those who have significant responsibilities within the sushi bar such as the owner, managers and supervisors as well as those involved in HACCP and food safety management systems.

Aside from initial training, it is also important that training is refreshed and updated frequently, especially when new legislation has been introduced, such as the example of Natasha’s Law. The frequency of the training will depend on the sushi bar, the type of food and drink handled and the workers’ competency. Most workers will need refresher training around every two years or so.

Food Hazards

Food hazards

Most people have some level of awareness when it comes to food hazards. However, when running a sushi bar, the awareness of the different potential hazards must be well understood. A food hazard, as defined by the FSA, is “something that could make food unsafe or unfit to eat.” Food hazards fit into four different categories: biological, chemical, physical and allergenic.

Biological

Sushi bars, like any food establishment, can be susceptible to various biological food hazards. Biological food hazards are microorganisms or other living organisms that can cause illness or disease in humans when they are consumed in contaminated food.

The most common biological hazards in food include bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi.

  • Bacteria – Certain bacteria, such as salmonella, campylobacter and Escherichia coli (E. coli), can cause food poisoning when they are present in contaminated food. Sushi, especially those containing raw fish or seafood, can be a breeding ground for bacteria, particularly salmonella, E. coli, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Listeria monocytogenes. Improper handling, inadequate refrigeration or cross-contamination can lead to bacterial growth and subsequent foodborne illnesses.
  • Viruses – Viruses such as norovirus and hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food and cause gastrointestinal illness. These viruses can be introduced into food by infected food handlers or contaminated ingredients. They are highly contagious and can cause outbreaks if proper hygiene practices are not followed.
  • Parasites – Raw or undercooked seafood used in sushi, such as certain types of fish or shellfish, can harbour parasites like Anisakis or Diphyllobothrium. If these parasites are not adequately destroyed through freezing or proper preparation, consuming contaminated sushi can lead to parasitic infections.
  • Fungi – Some types of fungi can produce toxins that contaminate food and cause illness such as Aspergillus flavus which produces the toxin aflatoxin.

 

Chemical

Chemical food hazards refer to harmful substances that can contaminate food and cause illness or disease when consumed. Such substances can occur naturally in the environment or be added to food either intentionally or unintentionally. While the focus of sushi bars is primarily on fresh ingredients and proper food handling, there are still potential chemical hazards that can be present.

Some chemical food hazards that might be found in a sushi bar include:

  • Pesticides – Pesticides are chemicals used in farming to control pests and diseases in crops. If used improperly or in excess, they can contaminate food and cause health problems. Fresh produce such as vegetables for sushi rolls can contain pesticide residues if not properly washed or sourced from reputable suppliers.
  • Contaminated water – Water used for preparing sushi rice, washing utensils or cleaning surfaces must meet drinking water standards.
  • Contaminated seafood – Seafood, including fish and shellfish, may accumulate environmental contaminants such as heavy metals (mercury and lead), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or dioxins. Sourcing seafood from reputable suppliers and adhering to recommended guidelines for safe seafood consumption can help mitigate this risk.
  • Food additives – Certain food additives, such as artificial sweeteners, colours, preservatives and flavourings can cause adverse reactions in some people, particularly if they are used in excess of what is considered safe. Sushi bars may use various food additives such as preservatives, colourants, flavour enhancers and stabilisers. The food additives must be approved, used within legal limits and properly labelled to prevent adverse health effects.
  • Contaminants from packaging – Chemicals from packaging materials such as plasticisers and bisphenol A (BPA) can migrate into foods and cause health problems.
  • Cleaning chemicals – Improper use or storage of cleaning chemicals in sushi bar premises can lead to contamination if they come into contact with food or food contact surfaces. Strict protocols should be in place to ensure that cleaning chemicals are safely stored and used according to the instructions.
  • Acrylamide – Acrylamide is a chemical that forms naturally in some foods such as potatoes and bread during high-temperature cooking methods like frying, roasting or baking and has been linked to cancer.

 

Physical

Physical food hazards refer to foreign objects or materials that may accidentally (or intentionally) contaminate food during the production process. These hazards can cause harm to customers such as cuts, choking and dental damage. While the focus of sushi bars is on providing safe and enjoyable dining experiences, there are potential physical hazards that can inadvertently make their way into the food.

Some examples of physical hazards include:

  • Glass or metal fragments – These can make their way into food during the production process such as if a glass jar or metal equipment is broken. Regular inspection and maintenance of equipment as well as using appropriate utensils can help prevent fragments from finding their way into the food.
  • Stones or dirt – These hazards can occur if food is not properly washed before preparing it or not properly sorted. Vegetables and salads are common places where these hazards occur.
  • Bone or shell fragments – Meat and fish products are prone to this physical hazard if they are not properly removed during processing. In the case of sushi that contains fish or shellfish, there is a risk of bones or shell fragments accidentally remaining in the flesh during preparation. Proper handling, inspection and deboning processes should be implemented to minimise this risk.
  • Plastic or rubber materials – These hazards can be introduced during food packaging or equipment used during processing or handling.
  • Jewellery, hair or nails – If employees do not follow good food safety practices including good self-hygiene, hairnets, properly fitting clothing and removing jewellery before preparing food, these items can find themselves in the food being prepared.

 

Allergenic

Allergenic hazards in food are those which can cause an allergic reaction in people with food allergies. Allergens are typically proteins that are found in certain foods, and when someone with an allergy consumes them, their immune system reacts by releasing histamines and other chemicals that can cause mild to severe symptoms, including anaphylaxis which can ultimately lead to death.

Sushi bars need to be particularly cautious about allergenic hazards as they often handle ingredients that can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Some common allergenic hazards that may be found in sushi bars include:

  • Fish and shellfish – Various types of fish and shellfish are commonly used in sushi preparations. These ingredients can cause allergic reactions in those with seafood allergies. It is crucial for sushi bars to properly label menu items or dishes on the conveyor belt and take measures to prevent cross-contact during preparation.
  • Soy and gluten Soy sauce is a staple condiment in sushi bars and contains soy which is a common allergen. Sushi rolls that include soy-based ingredients such as soybean paper or soy-based sauces can also pose a risk. Additionally, sushi is made with ingredients that also contain gluten, such as imitation crab (which often contains wheat).
  • Sesame – Sesame seeds or sesame oil are commonly used in sushi bar preparations, especially in toppings, dressings or garnishes. Sesame allergies are becoming more prevalent and exposure to even trace amounts of sesame can trigger severe allergenic reactions.
  • Other common allergens – Sushi bars should be aware of other common allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk and wheat. These ingredients may be present in certain sushi rolls, sauces or accompaniments. Proper identification, labelling and communication of allergenic ingredients to customers are essential to ensure their safety.

 

Food safety laws stipulate that certain allergens must be clearly labelled and emphasised on food and drink packaging and that establishments such as sushi bars must have allergy information readily available and accessible to customers on the items they serve. Sushi bars must have proper allergen management protocols in place as well as allergen-free options available.

The 4Cs

Sushi bars should follow the 4Cs of food hygiene to best prevent and avoid food hazards.

The 4Cs are:

  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Cross-contamination
  • Chilling

 

Cleaning

The Food Standards Agency report that a lack of cleaning thoroughly is one of the most common faults that result in a business such as a sushi bar being prosecuted. Cleaning properly is vital as it prevents harmful allergens and pathogens from spreading or contaminating food. It also discourages pests.

Sushi bars must have thorough cleaning schedules and procedures to ensure that all areas of the establishment are cleaned properly. This includes food storage areas, food preparation areas, serving and eating areas as well as toilet and bathroom areas. Many sushi bars operate a ‘clean as you go’ system whereby workers continually clean up after themselves as well as do a final clean after the establishment has closed for the day.

Cooking

Most sushi bars cook food on the premises and staff must ensure that food is cooked properly before serving it to their customers. If it is undercooked, it can mean that the food is not safe to eat and could cause food poisoning. Cooking food at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time means that any harmful bacteria present in the food would be killed.

How to cook food well and appropriately depends on the type of food. However, sushi bar chefs should also follow any food preparation guidelines on packaging (if present) and ensure that it is piping hot before it is served. Many sushi bars use a probe to test the temperature of food. It should be cooked to at least 70°C for a minimum of two minutes. Some sushi bars also reheat foods. Reheated food must be heated for at least 30 seconds at 75°C or above. In Scotland, the rules are different, and it should be heated to at least 82°C. Food should also only ever be reheated once.

Cross Contamination

Many foodborne illnesses occur due to cross-contamination. This is when harmful bacteria or allergens are transferred via utensils, surfaces, and food to food or between people. It is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Cross-contamination can also occur with cleaning chemicals, especially ones that are sprayed into the air and can settle on food, equipment or surfaces. Allergen cross-contamination is known as cross-contact. This is where allergens are unknowingly transferred from products containing allergens to allergen-free products.

Sushi bars must take cross-contamination seriously and have systems in place to prevent it such as:

  • Practising good personal hygiene.
  • Having separate areas for utensils and equipment.
  • Cleaning utensils and equipment thoroughly between uses.
  • Storing food properly (i.e. raw meat on shelves below cooked meat in a fridge and storing allergen-containing foods separately).
  • Being very cautious and consistent when it comes to cleaning.
  • Clearly labelling dishes on a conveyor belt with allergens.
  • Training staff about allergen awareness, cross-contact prevention and appropriate handling of allergenic ingredients.

 

Chilling

Some foods must be stored in refrigerators at certain temperatures before use to be safe to eat. Chilling does not kill any harmful bacteria, but it limits them from growing in unsafe quantities. If food is not chilled properly, it enters something called the ‘danger zone’ which encourages pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi to grow. This increases the risks of food poisoning.

All sushi bars should ensure that food is properly chilled.

This means:

  • Fridges are kept at 5°C or below.
  • Freezer temperatures are at least -18° or below.
  • Food in the fridge is stored correctly with raw meat at the bottom.
  • Frozen food should be defrosted in a fridge overnight and by following any instructions found on the packaging.
  • The food storage instructions on packaging should always be followed with use-by dates monitored.
  • The fridge and freezer should regularly be emptied of out-of-date or spoiled foods and cleaned regularly.

Personal hygiene in sushi bars

Personal hygiene is vital in all areas of our lives, but working in a sushi bar and preparing food and drink for other people is not only essential, but it’s also the law. Regulation 852/2004 stipulates that food handlers must maintain high standards when it comes to personal hygiene.

Personal hygiene is not just about washing your hands. It can include clothing, habits, hair, jewellery, illness and smoking too. If sushi bar employees do not follow good personal hygiene practices, they can contaminate foods with many hazards including biological and physical hazards through direct contact as well as cross-contamination.

Personal hygiene training for all staff should be mandatory and should include, but is not limited to:

  • Washing hands thoroughly before handling and preparing any food or drinks.
  • Washing hands after handling raw ingredients or allergens.
  • Tying long hair back and/or wearing a hairnet or hat.
  • Having clean, short fingernails without nail varnish.
  • No watches or jewellery except for a plain wedding ring.
  • No strong scented toiletries or perfumes which could affect or taint food.
  • Ensuring workers are wearing suitable clothing that is clean and practical. This can include gloves and aprons.
  • No sneezing or coughing near or around food and in food preparation areas.
  • Discouraging behaviours such as chewing gum and touching the face and hair.

 

If sushi bar employees are ill, it compromises the safety of the food being prepared. Sushi bar owners have a legal responsibility to ensure that their staff are not ill when handling food. This applies to illnesses such as diarrhoea and vomiting as well as skin infections, sores or cold sores. Blue or other brightly coloured plasters should be worn over any cuts or sores, even if they are not infected.

Sushi bars should also have methods and procedures for reporting illnesses that involve gastrointestinal symptoms as well as hepatitis A infections, wounds, skin infections and sores. If a sushi bar worker has vomiting and/or diarrhoea, they should not work for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped. If they are at work when the symptoms strike, they should leave and return home immediately.

Sandwich with allergen

Food allergens in sushi bars

We’ve already touched on food allergens when discussing legislation, Natasha’s Law and cross-contamination. However, allergens pose such a risk to some people that sushi bar workers must be fully clear on what the risks are as well as what is required from sushi bars when it comes to protecting their customers from the harm that they can cause.

There are 14 allergens that must be declared on the packaging and menus by law.

These are:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten such as wheat, rye, barley and oats.
  • Crustaceans, such as prawns, crabs and lobsters.
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lupin
  • Milk
  • Molluscs such as clams, mussels and oysters.
  • Mustard
  • Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachios and Brazil nuts.
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at concentrations of more than 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre).

 

Information regarding these allergens must be in writing for any prepared or served foods in the sushi bar. Pre-packed foods that are sold including canned and bottled drinks should already have the allergens listed on the packaging. As mentioned above, prepacked foods for direct sale (PPDS) must now also come with allergy labelling as per Natasha’s Law.

For loose foods or those that aren’t pre-packed, allergen information must be easily accessible to customers. This can include having it listed clearly on menus as well as providing ingredient lists in a folder.

With sushi bars that use a conveyor belt system, there is a greater cross-contact risk between different types of sushi. Customers may mistakenly pick up a plate of sushi that contains allergens that they are trying to avoid, especially if the allergenic ingredient is not immediately identifiable. This can lead to allergic reactions and potentially severe consequences.

When preparing food, sushi bars must also take precautions to ensure that any food allergens are handled safely and effectively to avoid cross-contact.

This can be achieved in a variety of ways:

  • Ensuring that allergenic hazards are included in HACCP systems and controls are put in place.
  • Clear labelling on each plate of sushi that indicates the presence of common allergens including fish, shellfish, soy, sesame or gluten.
  • Special requests should be honoured for customers with specific dietary needs. This can allow customers to request food that will meet their needs and chefs will be able to prepare customised sushi plates.
  • Providing training on allergens for staff, including what to do in emergencies if a customer has an allergic reaction.
  • Looking for allergenic ingredients on purchased products before using or supplying them (i.e. Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies which is a type of fish).
  • Preparing products containing allergens in a separate area from non-allergenic products, for example using different coloured chopping boards.
  • Storing allergen-containing products separately from non-allergen-containing products.
  • Cleaning surfaces and utensils thoroughly between uses where separate equipment is not possible.
  • Checking pre-packaged ingredients thoroughly for allergens especially considering many pre-bought items can change ingredients or formulation without warning even if you have used the product before.
  • Labelling containers with any allergens stored within them.
  • Recording information regarding allergens accurately, including on-shelf labels or ingredient labels and recipes.

 

Sadly, unlike bacteria and other contaminants, allergens cannot be destroyed in the cooking process. As such, sushi bars must be vigilant and careful when handling allergens and take particular care if a customer reports that they are allergic to something.

Storing Sushi Safely

Safely storing food in sushi bars

Storing food safely in a sushi bar is critical to prevent foodborne illnesses and maintain food quality. Sushi bars must have good systems in place when it comes to food storage.

Safe food storage practices should include:

  • Keeping raw meat, poultry and fish and shellfish separate from ready-to-eat food to prevent cross-contamination. Use separate chopping boards, utensils and containers for raw and cooked foods.
  • Storing food at the right temperature. The refrigerator should be kept at or below 5°C and frozen food at or below -18°C. To keep hot food hot, it should be at or above 63°C.
  • Storage containers should be food-safe and should be able to withstand the temperature of the food they store. Containers should be labelled with the name of the food and the date it was stored as well as labelling any allergens within it to ensure proper and safe storage.
  • Food should be stored in clean, dry and well-ventilated areas to prevent the growth of bacteria and mould.
  • The temperature of the fridge and freezer should be checked regularly to ensure that they are working correctly.
  • Advice for specific food storage should be followed.
  • Rotate food regularly to ensure that older food is used up first. Have a system with first-in-first-out (FIFO) stock rotation.
  • Dispose of any spoiled or out-of-date food promptly.

 

Hot holding

Hot holding in sushi bars is not a common practice for most sushi items. Sushi is traditionally served at room temperature or chilled to maintain its freshness and texture.

Overall, the main focus of sushi bars is on maintaining proper food temperatures and freshness through appropriate refrigeration and cold holding rather than hot holding. Sushi chefs should prioritise fresh ingredients and serve them promptly to ensure the best dining experience for their customers.

Serving food in a sushi bar

Safely serving food in sushi bars

Serving food in sushi bars, especially in conveyor belt systems, requires careful attention to ensure both food safety and good food hygiene practices. Here are some key considerations for safely serving food in sushi bars, particularly on conveyor belt systems:

1. Proper plate hygiene: Ensure that the plates used to serve sushi are clean and free from any contaminants. Plates should be thoroughly washed, rinsed and sanitised before use. Regularly check the plates on the conveyor belt to ensure they are clean and in good condition.

2. Plate covering: To protect the sushi from airborne contaminants and maintain its freshness, consider using plate covers or domes to cover the sushi plates on the conveyor belt. This helps prevent direct contact with customers’ hands, reduces the risk of cross-contamination, and preserves the quality of the sushi.

3. Time limits: Establish time limits for how long sushi plates can remain on the conveyor belt. Regularly monitor the rotation of plates to ensure that sushi is not left out for extended periods, which can compromise its quality and safety. Remove any plates that have been on the conveyor belt for too long and replace them with fresh ones.

4. Allergen separation: If allergenic ingredients are present in the sushi bar, take precautions to prevent cross-contact and allergen exposure. Consider using different coloured plates or clear labelling to differentiate allergenic sushi items from non-allergenic ones. Train staff to handle allergenic ingredients separately and avoid cross-contamination during food preparation and serving.

5. Temperature control: As mentioned earlier, sushi is typically served at room temperature or chilled. Ensure that the sushi is stored and displayed at safe temperatures to prevent bacterial growth and maintain its quality. Regularly monitor and adjust the temperature of refrigerated display units or the conveyor belt system to keep the sushi appropriately chilled.

6. Proper handling techniques: Train staff on proper food handling techniques to maintain food hygiene and safety. Emphasise the importance of using clean utensils, gloves or tongs when handling sushi plates on the conveyor belt. Encourage staff to practise good hand hygiene and change gloves frequently to minimise the risk of cross-contamination.

7.Monitoring and maintenance: Regularly inspect the conveyor belt system to ensure it is clean and in good working condition. Clean the conveyor belt and surrounding areas regularly to remove any debris or spills that could contaminate the sushi. Monitor the conveyor belt for any malfunctioning components that may impact food safety or proper sushi presentation.

8.Allergen information: If the conveyor belt sushi bar serves dishes with allergenic ingredients, provide clear and visible allergen information on the plates or nearby signage. Ensure that customers can easily identify which sushi items contain allergens, allowing them to make informed choices and avoid potential allergenic reactions.

By following these guidelines, sushi bars can maintain good food hygiene, reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses, and provide a safe dining experience for their customers, particularly in conveyor belt systems where proper handling and food safety practices are essential.

Waste Management in Sushi Bars

Waste management in sushi bars

Effective waste management is crucial in sushi bars to minimise environmental impact, maintain cleanliness and adhere to food safety regulations. Here are some key aspects to consider for waste management in sushi bars:

  • Segregation: Implement a waste segregation system to separate different types of waste. Provide designated bins or containers for recyclable materials such as paper, plastic and glass, as well as separate bins for organic waste and general non-recyclable waste. Clearly label the bins to ensure proper waste disposal by staff and customers.
  • Food waste reduction: Minimise food waste by carefully planning ingredient quantities, monitoring inventory and optimising production processes. Train staff on portion control to avoid excessive food preparation and encourage them to use ingredients efficiently. Additionally, consider implementing strategies like offering smaller portion sizes or incorporating creative menu options to repurpose leftover ingredients.
  • Composting: Implement a composting system for organic waste, such as vegetable scraps, rice and other biodegradable materials. Composting not only reduces waste sent to landfills but also creates nutrient-rich compost that can be used for gardening or landscaping purposes. Partner with local composting facilities or explore on-site composting options.
  • Recycling: Establish a robust recycling programme to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. Provide clearly marked recycling bins for materials like paper, plastic, glass and aluminium. Educate staff and customers about the importance of recycling and ensure that recyclable items are properly cleaned and sorted before disposal.
  • Proper disposal of hazardous waste: Ensure that hazardous waste, such as used cooking oil, is disposed of safely and in compliance with local regulations. Partner with licensed waste management companies that specialise in handling and recycling hazardous waste. Maintain accurate records of waste disposal to demonstrate regulatory compliance.
  • Efficient packaging: Opt for eco-friendly and sustainable packaging options whenever possible. Use biodegradable or compostable materials for takeout containers, utensils and packaging. Minimise the use of single-use plastics and encourage customers to bring their reusable containers for takeout orders.
  • Staff training and awareness: Train staff on proper waste management procedures, emphasising the importance of waste reduction, segregation and responsible disposal. Promote a culture of sustainability and waste consciousness within the sushi bar, encouraging employees to actively participate in waste reduction initiatives.
  • Continuous improvement and monitoring: Regularly evaluate waste management practices and identify areas for improvement. Monitor waste generation, recycling rates and landfill diversion to track progress and identify opportunities for further waste reduction. Engage with staff and customers to gather feedback and ideas for waste management initiatives.

 

By implementing effective waste management practices, sushi bars can minimise their environmental footprint, comply with regulations, and contribute to a sustainable food service industry. Additionally, promoting waste reduction and responsible waste disposal can enhance the reputation of the sushi bar and resonate with environmentally conscious customers.

Pest Control

Pest control

The last thing anyone wants to read about is a pest infestation at their favourite sushi bar. It’ll certainly put off most customers! Pests are any animal or insect that can contaminate food with pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. If uncontrolled, pests can become an infestation. Aside from pathogen exposure, pests also produce physical hazards such as droppings, feathers, fur and even their whole body (or part of it!).

Pest control is a crucial aspect of maintaining food safety and hygiene in sushi bars. Effective pest management helps prevent contamination of food, protects the health of customers and staff and ensures compliance with health regulations.

Here are some important points to consider when it comes to pest control in sushi bars:

  • Common pests: Sushi bars can be susceptible to various pests, including rodents, flies, cockroaches, ants and stored product pests. These pests are attracted to food sources, moisture and shelter, making it essential to implement preventive measures to keep them out.
  • Regular inspections: Conduct regular inspections of the premises to identify any signs of pest activity. Look for droppings, nests, gnaw marks or other evidence of pests. Inspect food storage areas, rubbish disposal areas, and nooks and crannies where pests may hide.
  • Maintain cleanliness: Keep the sushi bar clean and free of food debris that can attract pests. Regularly clean all surfaces, including countertops, floors and equipment. Pay close attention to areas that are prone to moisture, such as sinks and drains, as they can provide breeding grounds for pests.
  • Proper food storage: Store all food items, ingredients and supplies in sealed containers to prevent pests from accessing them. Keep perishable items refrigerated at appropriate temperatures to discourage pest activity. Ensure that storage areas are well-organised and clean to avoid providing hiding places for pests.
  • Waste management: As discussed above, properly manage and dispose of waste to prevent pest attraction. Use covered bins with tight-fitting lids to prevent pests from accessing garbage. Regularly empty and clean the bins and ensure they are placed away from the main food preparation and dining areas.
  • Seal entry points: Inspect the premises for any gaps, cracks or openings that pests can use to enter. Seal these entry points with caulk or other appropriate materials to prevent pests from infiltrating the sushi bar. Pay attention to areas around doors, windows, utility penetrations and pipes.
  • Pest control professionals: Consider hiring a licensed pest control company to regularly inspect and treat the premises. Pest control professionals have the expertise to identify potential pest issues and implement targeted control measures. They can also provide advice on preventive measures specific to sushi bars.
  • Employee education: Train employees on the importance of pest control and their role in maintaining a pest-free environment. Teach them about proper sanitation practices, waste management, and how to identify and report signs of pest activity. Encourage a culture of vigilance and prompt reporting to address any potential pest problems.
  • Documentation and record-keeping: Maintain records of pest control activities, including inspections, treatments and any corrective actions taken. This documentation helps demonstrate compliance with health regulations and provides a reference for future inspections.

 

By implementing these preventive measures and maintaining a proactive approach to pest control, sushi bars can create a clean and safe environment for food preparation and service. Regular monitoring, proper sanitation, and collaboration with pest control professionals are key to effectively preventing and managing pest infestations as well as making sure that Environmental Health Officers are satisfied that food safety and hygiene regulations are met.

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