Consuming Raw Fish Safe or Not
I'm not a raw fish eater and this hub is not against raw fish eater and sushi eater. Sushi can contain raw fish but also can contain cooked or otherwise prepared seafood and vegetables.
Human being has been eating raw fish millions of years and fish can be much better consumed raw than meat. I can't imagine consume raw meat either, I can't consume anything raw beside fruits and veggie.
Raw fish is a traditional delicacy in many cultures. Sushi, sashimi, ceviche, gravlax, salmon tartar, and lawar in my country (especially in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia). Unfortunately this raw fish could contain of parasites if it is not handled well.
Raw Fish Parasites
There are two types of worms present in local fish that can cause illness in humans.
1. Anisakis, a little roundcoiled worm.
2. Diphyllobothrium, the long and hungry parasite.
Anisakis is found in salt water fish such as salmon, pollock, cod, and halibut. If somebody ingest a live worm, the person will feel abdominal pain and maybe vomitting. If the worm is not expelled, it can cling to a human intestinal wall and creating abdominal disturbances.
In some rare cases, the worm penetrates the intestinal wall and causes a life threatening infection called peritonitis.
While Diphyllobothrium causes a subtler problem. We may carry these worms for years without knowing it. The parasites can grow to a length of ten meters, and may causing weakness and anemia. The parasites will rob the nutrition. These kind of worms infect many species of fresh water fish like trout and salmon.
Believe it or not parasitic infections from freshwater fish/shellfish are very problematic in some parts of the world (e.g. Southeast Asia.)
There are over 50 helminthic infections from fish/shellfish (i.e. parasites that parasitizes the human gut) that can infect humans.
According to Paul Carnes, M.D from Fisherman's Journal, those who love sashimi there are a couple of precautions you can take.Luckily most parasitic infections from ocean fish are rare. Pelagic fishes, such as tuna probably have the least amount of parasitic load. This is mainly due to their wide roaming migrations. This is because tuna, who are near the top of
the food chain, may consume prey that have parasites, but are not in an area long enough to ingest many prey that might have a high parasitic load. What this does is decrease the likelihood of becoming infected. There are however case reports of humans becoming infected with roundworms after ingesting raw Yellowfin tuna. Homeguard fish are more likely to have parasites simply because they don't move around much. Thus they continue to consume prey that may have parasites. Juvenile or smaller fish also have less time to have become infected with parasites. Also fishes that grow quickly also have less time to pick up parasites.
True Story of a man with maggots in his head
This is a real story of an old man named Shota Fujiwara, 80 years old. He is from Gifu Prefecture, Japan. He loved to consume raw fish like shusi and sashimi for years. He had suffered unusually painful headache for 3 years and has lost his psicometric ability since then. After undergoing CT-scans & X-rays, the doctors that were treating him had found worms' nest under his head's skin,luckyly as the worms did not penetrate through his skull and into his brain.
The worms on the head of Shota Fujiwara are actually the parasites that usually found on the body of raw fish. This parasite worms can only be killed by the process of high temperatured heating. Or by freezing it in -10 degree Celsius to -20 degree Celsius.
Please be cautious of the pictures.
How to handle raw fish
I think most of professional sushi chefs will have trained to serve the raw fish in a healthy and higienic way. There is nothing to be worry of. If you love to prepare the raw fish yourself, you may consider these :
1. Clean your fish right away. The parasites live in the fish's digestive tract, so if you remove the guts immediately, you will minimize the risk.
2. Cook or freeze your fish before you eat it, fish cooked to a temperature of 140 degree will not have live parasites in it. Fish that is frozen to -35 degree C (-31 degree F) for fifteen hours will be free of live worms. Most household freezers do not get this cold, but you can freeze your fish for seven days at -20 degree C (-4 degree F). Stay away from raw salmon unless it has been frozen, smoked or farm raised. Don't experiment with consuming new types of raw fish, especially freshwater fish-you may
regret it later.
3. Before serving raw fish, you have to inspect it closely. Cut it into thin pieces and illuminate the flesh over a bright light. That's why a really sharp and high quality knife is needed in serving raw fish. Anisakis worms are tightly coiled, clear, and about half an inch long. Tapeworm larvae resemble a grain of white rice.
How to determine if the fish is fresh or not,
To judge fish on freshness, it has to be a whole fish ; the slime-layer must be intact, and the gills should be moist and bright red. (except for mackerel, whose gills are brown) The scales must be both intact and shiny, and firmly attached to the body. The cut-wound edges must have a fresh scent. The flesh has to be firm. Poking your finger in the flesh, it has to bounce back.
Fresh fish has convex eyes, which shouldn't be bloody but bright white, with shiny black pupils. There should not be any signs of browning (due to oxidation).
So the conclusion is we have to handle or make sure that the raw fish we consume is handled properly and in a hygienic ways.
How to Make Sushi
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