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Proposed DOH Regulations Could Change the State of Sushi in NYC

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Restaurants are fighting back against a set of new rules that would, among other things, require them to freeze fish before serving it raw.

Nick Solares

The long, ongoing fight between the Department of Health and the city's restaurants is heating up again after a hearing yesterday, reports Crain's NY. The DOH is considering imposing new regulations including requiring that restaurants freeze almost all of the fish they wish to serve raw or raw-like (i.e. ceviche) to reduce the risk of parasites. This would hit places like Masa, 15 East, Le Bernardin, and pretty much all of the city's top sushi restaurants hard. Plus, as the New York State Restaurant Association points out, it would require a lot of restaurants to make big investments in fancy new freezers.

Other regulations being considered include requiring that the DOH inspect restaurants before they open (inevitably delaying openings), forcing juice companies to post a warning label on homemade packaged juice saying that the product could contain pathogens, and forcing restaurants to sanitize utensils and equipment with ammonium.

Restaurant advocacy groups worry that the new regulations would allow the city to increase its fines. A rep from the New York City Hospitality Alliance said in a statement: "This mayor has promised that his agencies will not treat small businesses like ATM machines...Well, the Health Department did not get the message." The DOH says the proposed regulations are in line with new federal rules. The Board of Health will meet in March to make the final decision.

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