Sushi On A Roll Inc. claims to be San Diego’s only caterer specializing in sushi for large and small parties.  It also instructs Sushi classes for up to 30 people at a time from its kitchen and sushi bar located near Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres play.

california-rolls-featured.jpgIn addition, the restaurant offers free online sushi creation videos featuring Jeff Roberto, the company president who last Dec. 9 received a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about “serious violations” at Sushi On A Roll’s seafood processing facility.

The letter as made public Tuesday.

Alonza E. Cruse, FDA’s Los Angles district director, told Roberto in the letter that Sushi On A Roll must write and implement a seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan or its fish and fish products can be deemed to be adulterated under federal law and regulations.

“Accordingly, the Sushi Rolls containing characterizing fishery products you process are adulterated, in that they have been prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions whereby they have have been rendered injurious to health,” Cruse wrote.

FDA said Sushi On A Roll was not sufficiently monitoring the safety of water used with food and on food contact surfaces, noting the lack of a backflow prevention device.

Sanitary facilities,including hand-washing and toilet facilities, were found lacking.  Food and food packaging were not protected from adulteration from fuel and pesticides to cleaning compounds and biological contaminants.

Serving plates were being stored on the floor of a walk-in cooler in milk-style crates.  Light tubes over a kitchen processing table were not protected.

FDA was also concerned about bird feces and ants in the seafood processing facility.

The agency’s comments, stemming from an inspection on Aug. 27, 2009, also focused on the need for better monitoring and record keeping.

“You must conduct or have conducted for you a hazard analysis for each kind of fish and fishery product that you produce to determine whether there are food safety hazards that are reasonably likely to occur and have a HACCP plan that, at a minimum lists the food safety hazards that are reasonably likely to occur, to comply with 21 CFR 123.6(a) and (c ) (1),” Cruse explained.

“A food safety hazard is defined in 21 CFR.3(1) as ‘any biological, chemical, or physical property that may cause afoot to be unsafe for human consumption.’  However, your firm’s HACCP plan for ready-to-eat sushi products containing ‘Shrimp, Tuna Salmon, Yellowtail, Eel” does not list the food safety hazards of: a.) Pathogen growth at the receiving step for fresh refrigerated raw salmon used in salmon rolls. b.) Clostridium botulinum growth and toxin formation during the refrigerated thawing and storage of frozen vacuum-packaged raw fish for sushi rolls including yellowtail (Hamachi) and Yellowtail Tuna.”

FDA advised Sushi On A Roll to get equipment that can monitor storage times and temperatures for its ready-to-eat sushi products.  It reminded Sushi On A Roll to include “California Roll” in its HACCP plan because the product contains imitation crab meat as an ingredient.

Roberto had 15 days to respond to the warning letter, but FDA has not yet published a “close out” letter, which usually means the case remains open.