Japanese restaurants fight back against viral 'sushi terrorism’ trend

A new social media trend of people filming themselves using their saliva to violate food safety at sushi conveyor belt restaurants in Japan has sparked outrage across the internet. And the pranksters' videos, which have garnered millions of views, have even prompted a new term: "sushi tero," short for sushi terrorism, The Washington Post reports. 

The disturbing new fad involves licking communal bowls and silverware, spitting on passing orders, or stealing people's food. The videos have generated massive interest across social media platforms, as viewers express disgust at the prankster's callous disregard for food safety regulations.  "Conveyor belt sushi" was the top trending term on Twitter this week, with many users reconsidering whether they would revisit such restaurants, per the Post

Sushiro, a conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain where one of the most viral videos was filmed, has decided to take action. The restaurant submitted a complaint to the police about a boy who, in one clip, can be seen licking unused cups and soy sauce bottles and touching passing sushi with a finger he dipped into his mouth. The video gained almost 100 million views, and the boy and his parents have since apologized. Still, Sushiro is pursuing criminal and civil action, claiming the damage has already been done. TV Asahi, a Japanese news outlet, reported that the restaurant chain's stock fell by five percent, or about $125 million, after the video took off, per the Post. 

In a statement to Time, Food & Life Companies Ltd., Sushiro's parent company, said it is working on regaining customers' trust by increasing food safety. "As a first-aid countermeasure, for all Sushiro stores in Japan, if a customer feels uneasy about the tableware and seasonings on the table, they can let us know, and we will replace them with disinfected ones that are stored separately."

Photo of Kura Sushi, a Japanese conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain