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Orianna Rosa Royle

Sushi terrorism: Viral and unsanitary trend has sent a Japanese company’s shares plunging

Human's hand picking up sushi dish at sushi bar in the Japanese restaurant (Credit: d3sign—Getty Images)

After collectively experiencing the world’s worst health crisis of our generation, you’d think unhygienic practices were a thing of the past.

Think again. 

Viral videos of teenagers pulling unsanitary pranks at sushi belt restaurants in Japan have sparked outrage and caused stocks at one chain to slump.

Disgusted social media users are calling the trend “sushi terrorism”.

It all apparently started when one teenager filmed himself licking communal items at Japan’s largest conveyor belt sushi chain and uploaded the video to social media. 

He can be seen spreading his saliva on a soy sauce bottle and a bowl, before licking his finger and touching a piece of sushi as it goes past the belt.

The video, filmed at a branch of the Sushiro chain in the central Japanese city of Gifu, has inspired other devilish customers to pull similar pranks like putting wasabi on passing pieces of sushi or licking the spoon in a communal green tea powder container.

Poor hygiene is bad news for business

Unfortunately for Sushiro, these emerging videos haven’t translated well for business.

Customers in Japan are understandably cautious, as it’s in the midst of suffering its deadliest Covid outbreak since the pandemic began.

The video has “caused a lot of anxiety among our customers and made them uncomfortable,” a spokesperson for the firm told Bloomberg

As a result, stocks in the restaurant's parent company plunged by nearly 5% on Tuesday.

Food & Life Cos., which owns Akindo Sushiro where the incident occurred, has filed a police report and received an apology from the prankster, according to a statement.

"As a company, we will continue to respond firmly with both criminal and civil cases," the company said.

While some vowed on social media to never eat sushi from a conveyor belt again, the incident has also inspired a wave of support for the impacted businesses. 

"I've always wanted to go to Sushiro but haven't been able to because it's always crowded," Japanese singer Yuya Tegoshi tweeted.

"But the situation now is the absolute worst for them, so I'm definitely going to visit."

Meanwhile, others are using the hashtag #saveSushiro.

To inspire confidence in customers, the Sushiro chain is installing acrylic screens at some outlets to deter conveyor bel tampering and only providing fresh seasonings and cutlery on a request basis. Plus, diners will be able to request disinfected tableware and all the soy sauce bottles at the affected store have been replaced.

Other restaurants are also starting to enforce stricter hygiene measures as a precautionary measure and as older similar prank videos emerge. 

Two other affected chains, Hama-sushi and Kura Sushi, are reportedly also planning to take legal action, with the latter planning to install cameras above conveyor belts to monitor customers.

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