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Japan Bans Restaurants From Serving Raw Pork Over Hepatitis Concerns

Restaurant owners that violate the law can be thrown in jail.

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Japan may champion raw fish, but not so much raw pork. According to the Japan Times, the country's Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry has banned restaurants from serving raw pork. The ban goes into effect mid-June. Under the new rules, restaurants will only be able to serve pork that is heated for at least 30 minutes at 63 degrees celsius, or is "heat-sterilized in other ways with a similar effect." Restaurants that violate the rules will face up to two years in jail or a fine of two million Yen ($16,145 USD).

The Japanese government says the ban is due to concerns over hepatitis E. Pigs' innards could be tainted with the virus which can cause liver inflammation and other health issues. The number of hepatitis E cases has increased nearly three times in the past three years and the government attributes the trend to an increase in the consumption of raw pork.

Business Standard writes that restaurants in Japan started serving more raw pork in 2012. That year, the Japanese government banned raw beef liver, so restaurants started turning to raw pork liver instead.

Raw pork is banned in the U.S. and many other countries in the world. This is largely due to the food parasite Trichinosis. If ingested, it can cause abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, nausea, muscle aches, itching, fever, chills, joint pains, and sometimes death. The United States Department of Health requires that restaurants cook pork to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit before serving.

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