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Eating Raw Fish in Sushi-Is it Safe?

Updated on April 18, 2013

How Safe is Eating Raw Sushi?

Sushi contains raw fish rolled and served on a small bed of rice. Sushi can contain cooked fish, as well. Sushi has been popular in America for a few decades, and is popular in sushi bars and restaurants. Sushi is available at the local supermarket. Sushi contains either raw or cooked fish, and most people associate sushi as raw fish in a roll. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set regulations for handling and preparation of sushi, after people started getting sick.The FDA requires that the raw fish that is in sushi is to be frozen and must remain frozen for up to seven days at a temperature of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees C), or frozen in a blast freezer at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees C) for 15 days. Raw fish that is used for sushi must be kept frozen to kill off all of the organisms that can cause disease. Fish are known to carry diseases, so care must be taken to ensure that the raw fish in sushi is safe to eat. Cooked fish is the safest to eat. Bad sushi should be avoided.

Sushi Police to Fight Bad Sushi

Sushi and Sashimi

Sushi and Sashimi
Sushi and Sashimi | Source


Sushi | Source

Raw Fish and Bad Sushi

Raw sushi (Bad Sushi) may contain diseases that can infect people, who eat raw sushi. If sushi isn't handled or prepared properly there could be some health risks like organisms that cause disease, bacteria, and some fish contain natural toxins. Parasites (worms) infest fish like salmon, herring and cod.The worms can make people ill. The symptoms depend on the type of worm that was ingested, and symptoms can range from nausea, cramps, diarrhea to severe inflammation in the abdomen and pain. These symptoms can appear within an hour of eating raw sushi. Raw fish can contain parasites like tapeworms, flukes, and flatworms, or even a parasite that is a roundworm (Anisakis Simplex). If this roundworm is swallowed it can tickle the throat and cause a cough or may be vomited up. It may burrow into the lining of the stomach or gut and cause inflammation and pain in the abdomen. This type of roundworm is dangerous, and it is difficult to get rid of the worm. The roundworm may have to be removed by using an endoscope or surgery. Parasite infection is rare in raw fish, but the tapeworm, fluke, and roundworm are the most common parasites that are found in raw fish. People are at risk of parasites and other diseases by eating bad sushi.

How to Eat Raw Sushi Safely

Sushi restaurants are required by the FDA to take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish, and to freeze the raw fish according to the regulations set by the FDA. There have been restaurants that have failed to follow these regulations. When going to a sushi restaurant always make sure that the restaurant is reputable and clean. Its a good idea to ask the chef questions about the raw fish being served in sushi, and to ask if the fish was previously frozen. Its a good idea to know what your getting, just to be safe.

The FDA recommends fish from the mid-ocean like yellow-fin tuna, which is supposed to have a low risk of parasites, and processed varieties like smoke salmon. The rice in sushi can make people ill. Typically, rice in sushi is made with vinegar, in order, to make it safe to eat. If rice is left out for too long in room air temperature it can develop bacteria that can make people ill. The bacteria is called Bacillus Cereus. When rice is acidified to a pH level of 4.2, the bacteria are not able to germinate.

When making sushi at home only use "sushi grade" or "sashimi grade" sushi. The two terms mean that the raw fish has been commercially frozen according to FDA regulations. Home freezers are not able to reach the low temperatures that are required to freeze raw fish used in sushi like commercial freezers. Sushi should never be stored in the refrigerator longer than 24 hours if its raw; it should be used as soon as possible. Sushi that doesn't smell or look right should be thrown out. Fish that is cooked thoroughly is the safest. No food is completely safe.

Parasite Infection is Rare in Raw Fish

Parasite infection is rare in raw fish
Parasite infection is rare in raw fish | Source

People Who Should Avoid Eating Sushi

People, who should avoid eating raw sushi are: pregnant women, the young, the eldery, and people with comprised immune systems. Women, who are pregnant or are going to become pregnant should visit the National Resources Defense Council's website to find a list of the types of sushi that are safe to eat. The young, elderly, the compromised immunized, and anyone with a chronic illness should avoid raw seafood. High levels of mercury have been found in tuna fish. Bad sushi should be avoided for good health.


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    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      Dear Peter Geekie, I would never eat raw fish or any kind of raw meat. I would never want any parasites or toxins in me. I agree that our digestive and immune systems can't deal with the parasites and toxins. I would never like sushi even cooked. That's awful that the Japanese do things like that to fish just for their pleasure. That is very unforgivable when the Japanese torture fish for pleasure. No reason to be sorry. Raw fish wouldn't be safe to eat with the parasites and toxins-that's for sure! Scary for sure!! Thank for commenting, kind regards, too Gail.

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you gail641,

      This is a well written and researched article. I do not like raw fish, our digestive and immune systems cannot deal with the parasites and toxins present in most fish these days. I particularly don't like Sushi as the Japanese in particular seem to take a great delight in filleting fish without destroying their vital organs, re-assembling them and squealing with pleasure as they writhe in agony on the plate their eyes wide open.

      Sorry but I find some of them absolutely unforgivable.

      Kind regards Peter

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      Your welcome, Deborah. Some people like the raw fish from the puffer fish that is poisonous. I knew that sushi was very popular with the big stars, and a lot of people like to go to sushi bars. I thought that sushi was a very interesting subject matter. I read that sometimes the Master Chef who prepares raw fish from the puffer fish includes some of the poison, and people can feel a tingling feeling on their lip when they eat it. That's really interesting.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      I love sushi, although I tend not to eat the real hard-core raw stuff, except for tuna. My favorite is unagi, which is barbecued eel. That's an interesting fact about mid-ocean fish being the safest. Thanks for the info.