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Is It Safe to Eat Supermarket Sushi?

Is It Safe to Eat Supermarket Sushi?

Since being introduced to the United States in 1966, American-style sushi has continued to grow in popularity. With sushi available from venues as prestigious as top-grade, Japanese-style sushi bars as well as in seemingly seedier places like convenience stores and supermarkets, it’s not uncommon for sushi’s quality to be called into question.

Click here to see The Best 35 Sushi Bars in America.

During its earliest years on our turf, the sushi Americans encountered was prepared in genuine Japanese fashion — modern American twists we’ve come to enjoy and expect like cream cheese, tempura (tempura for days… it seems as if every roll has something fried on it any more), and spicy mayo were nowhere to be found. In the 1970s, traditional Japanese sushi underwent a revolutionary change. This change, an epic Americanization of sushi inspired by the fact that tuna wasn’t always available in the ‘70s, resulted in the crab-and-avocado roll known as the California roll.

Following the advent of the California roll, a lot of inventive, inspired American sushi rolls entered the culinary scene. Many look to sushi as an exotic meal, while many more order it for its inherent nutritional value. Often, diners request the not-so-healthy fried and cream cheese-filled options in lieu of the healthy fish, rice, and vegetable-based (avocados too, we hope) traditional rolls. Regardless, the reasoning behind one’s decision to dine with chopsticks and a side of ginger (we hope you’re not eating sushi with a fork, and we get that ginger shouldn’t be needed on quality sushi but it just tastes so good), proof of this Japanese’s popularity across the world can be seen in the environmental impact sushi love is having. Increased demand for the sushi-grade fish that many rolls require means more fishing. Over-fishing of the world’s oceans is something that may mean less sushi for future generations.

It seems that the planet’s health is what’s at stake when it comes to supermarket sushi, not the immediate health of the consumer. Supermarket sushi tends to be refrigerated, taking away most of the risk for bacteria to accumulate. If you notice that sushi has been sitting out for a while without proper refrigeration at, say, a buffet, then you should obviously steer clear of it. Why are you going to a buffet for sushi, anyway? Otherwise, though, supermarket sushi should be a safe and nutritious food option as long as those who are preparing it are following proper food safety protocol.

Health aside, supermarket sushi’s integrity should be your biggest concern. Ingredients in sushi aren’t always what they seem — often, fish labeled as one thing is actually another species entirely. Wyatt Marshall of Vice’s Munchies channel writes on the mislabeling of sushi:

“Fifty-eight percent of New York City sushi restaurants sold mislabeled fish in one 2012 study,” Marshall says, “with as many as 13 different types of fish being passed off as ‘red snapper.’ The same study found that 94 percent of ‘white tuna’ sold wasn’t white tuna at all — it was actually escolar, a type of snake mackerel (how appetizing) that has, ahem, ‘purgative effects’ in even small quantities.”

This mislabeling of fish stems from the decades-long process of Americanizing a traditionally Japanese dish and, well, laziness. There are efforts being made to fix this, though, and plans are being put in motion to have classically trained sushi chefs in designated Japanese-grade sushi restaurants here in America and elsewhere around the world. With that being said, don’t worry about the safety of your supermarket sushi — worry about the integrity of the ingredients in it and the impact that your food is having on our planet.

The accompanying slideshow is provided by fellow Daily Meal editorial staff member Dan Myers.


Is Sushi Safe to Eat?

A Chicago man sued a restaurant in 2008 for allegedly serving him a parasitic tapeworm along with his salmon. So what about the sushi or sashimi that hungry buyers pick up to go during the lunch hour rush?

Sushi lovers need not fret about the raw fish they consume, food scientists say, as long as the sushi has been prepared properly according to regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. People preparing sushi themselves need to take extra care with both the raw fish and the rice.

The usual suspects

Raw fish poses several potential hazards for consumers besides parasites. Bacteria can develop in non-fresh fish and produce enzymes called histamines that may result in Scombroid poisoning. Certain tropical-water fish may also have a natural toxin called ciguatera which causes gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms.

Sushi eaters don't typically have to worry because sushi restaurants take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish. A required step involves freezing fish at temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) for seven days, or frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius) for 15 hours, which kills any parasites.

"As far as sushi goes, the rules are in place because people were getting sick," said Keith Schneider, a microbiologist and food safety expert at the University of Florida. "The parasites are why we do the freezing on the raw fish."

The cases of sushi-related illness fall far below the number of people sickened by contaminated produce such jalapeno peppers. Even in those rare cases, the rice in sushi is more often the culprit than the fish.

"I got sick eating sushi at a place I go to occasionally &mdash a fast food place, not a restaurant &mdash and I could swear I came out with bacillus cereus," Schneider told LiveScience.

The bacillus cereus bacteria can spread rapidly in rice that sits at room temperature. Sushi rice requires an acidic bath in a vinegary solution that lowers the PH to 4.1, killing troublemaking microbes and making sushi safer for the everyday foodie.

Don't walk on the wild side

Many sushi lovers feast contentedly on albacore or eel, but a few people aim for a more dangerous culinary experience by eating the raw flesh of a poisonous puffer fish called fugu.

Master fugu chefs sometimes include some of the poison in their prepared dish, which creates a tingly feeling on the lips when eaten. However, improperly prepared fugu can kill due to the fish's potent neurotoxin.

"I consider it more of a dare than a delicacy," Schneider said. "There are people who kill themselves every year trying to make fugu, and it gives sushi a bad name."

As for trying to make sushi with raw meat other than fish, best perish the thought.

"Raw chicken, raw beef has probably much greater risk," Schneider said, pointing to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can sicken thousands each year in the United States. "There are reasons you don't have chicken sushi."

No food is completely without risk, but smart consumers can eat sensibly and enjoy &ndash as long as fish are around.

Expert tips for happy sushi eating

  • The best bet for a good meal involves going to a restaurant or grabbing a sushi container from the local supermarket.
  • If you absolutely want to prepare your own sushi, buy sushi-grade fish that has been frozen per FDA regulations.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as possible, and do not let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.


Is Sushi Safe to Eat?

A Chicago man sued a restaurant in 2008 for allegedly serving him a parasitic tapeworm along with his salmon. So what about the sushi or sashimi that hungry buyers pick up to go during the lunch hour rush?

Sushi lovers need not fret about the raw fish they consume, food scientists say, as long as the sushi has been prepared properly according to regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. People preparing sushi themselves need to take extra care with both the raw fish and the rice.

The usual suspects

Raw fish poses several potential hazards for consumers besides parasites. Bacteria can develop in non-fresh fish and produce enzymes called histamines that may result in Scombroid poisoning. Certain tropical-water fish may also have a natural toxin called ciguatera which causes gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms.

Sushi eaters don't typically have to worry because sushi restaurants take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish. A required step involves freezing fish at temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) for seven days, or frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius) for 15 hours, which kills any parasites.

"As far as sushi goes, the rules are in place because people were getting sick," said Keith Schneider, a microbiologist and food safety expert at the University of Florida. "The parasites are why we do the freezing on the raw fish."

The cases of sushi-related illness fall far below the number of people sickened by contaminated produce such jalapeno peppers. Even in those rare cases, the rice in sushi is more often the culprit than the fish.

"I got sick eating sushi at a place I go to occasionally &mdash a fast food place, not a restaurant &mdash and I could swear I came out with bacillus cereus," Schneider told LiveScience.

The bacillus cereus bacteria can spread rapidly in rice that sits at room temperature. Sushi rice requires an acidic bath in a vinegary solution that lowers the PH to 4.1, killing troublemaking microbes and making sushi safer for the everyday foodie.

Don't walk on the wild side

Many sushi lovers feast contentedly on albacore or eel, but a few people aim for a more dangerous culinary experience by eating the raw flesh of a poisonous puffer fish called fugu.

Master fugu chefs sometimes include some of the poison in their prepared dish, which creates a tingly feeling on the lips when eaten. However, improperly prepared fugu can kill due to the fish's potent neurotoxin.

"I consider it more of a dare than a delicacy," Schneider said. "There are people who kill themselves every year trying to make fugu, and it gives sushi a bad name."

As for trying to make sushi with raw meat other than fish, best perish the thought.

"Raw chicken, raw beef has probably much greater risk," Schneider said, pointing to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can sicken thousands each year in the United States. "There are reasons you don't have chicken sushi."

No food is completely without risk, but smart consumers can eat sensibly and enjoy &ndash as long as fish are around.

Expert tips for happy sushi eating

  • The best bet for a good meal involves going to a restaurant or grabbing a sushi container from the local supermarket.
  • If you absolutely want to prepare your own sushi, buy sushi-grade fish that has been frozen per FDA regulations.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as possible, and do not let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.


Is Sushi Safe to Eat?

A Chicago man sued a restaurant in 2008 for allegedly serving him a parasitic tapeworm along with his salmon. So what about the sushi or sashimi that hungry buyers pick up to go during the lunch hour rush?

Sushi lovers need not fret about the raw fish they consume, food scientists say, as long as the sushi has been prepared properly according to regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. People preparing sushi themselves need to take extra care with both the raw fish and the rice.

The usual suspects

Raw fish poses several potential hazards for consumers besides parasites. Bacteria can develop in non-fresh fish and produce enzymes called histamines that may result in Scombroid poisoning. Certain tropical-water fish may also have a natural toxin called ciguatera which causes gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms.

Sushi eaters don't typically have to worry because sushi restaurants take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish. A required step involves freezing fish at temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) for seven days, or frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius) for 15 hours, which kills any parasites.

"As far as sushi goes, the rules are in place because people were getting sick," said Keith Schneider, a microbiologist and food safety expert at the University of Florida. "The parasites are why we do the freezing on the raw fish."

The cases of sushi-related illness fall far below the number of people sickened by contaminated produce such jalapeno peppers. Even in those rare cases, the rice in sushi is more often the culprit than the fish.

"I got sick eating sushi at a place I go to occasionally &mdash a fast food place, not a restaurant &mdash and I could swear I came out with bacillus cereus," Schneider told LiveScience.

The bacillus cereus bacteria can spread rapidly in rice that sits at room temperature. Sushi rice requires an acidic bath in a vinegary solution that lowers the PH to 4.1, killing troublemaking microbes and making sushi safer for the everyday foodie.

Don't walk on the wild side

Many sushi lovers feast contentedly on albacore or eel, but a few people aim for a more dangerous culinary experience by eating the raw flesh of a poisonous puffer fish called fugu.

Master fugu chefs sometimes include some of the poison in their prepared dish, which creates a tingly feeling on the lips when eaten. However, improperly prepared fugu can kill due to the fish's potent neurotoxin.

"I consider it more of a dare than a delicacy," Schneider said. "There are people who kill themselves every year trying to make fugu, and it gives sushi a bad name."

As for trying to make sushi with raw meat other than fish, best perish the thought.

"Raw chicken, raw beef has probably much greater risk," Schneider said, pointing to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can sicken thousands each year in the United States. "There are reasons you don't have chicken sushi."

No food is completely without risk, but smart consumers can eat sensibly and enjoy &ndash as long as fish are around.

Expert tips for happy sushi eating

  • The best bet for a good meal involves going to a restaurant or grabbing a sushi container from the local supermarket.
  • If you absolutely want to prepare your own sushi, buy sushi-grade fish that has been frozen per FDA regulations.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as possible, and do not let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.


Is Sushi Safe to Eat?

A Chicago man sued a restaurant in 2008 for allegedly serving him a parasitic tapeworm along with his salmon. So what about the sushi or sashimi that hungry buyers pick up to go during the lunch hour rush?

Sushi lovers need not fret about the raw fish they consume, food scientists say, as long as the sushi has been prepared properly according to regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. People preparing sushi themselves need to take extra care with both the raw fish and the rice.

The usual suspects

Raw fish poses several potential hazards for consumers besides parasites. Bacteria can develop in non-fresh fish and produce enzymes called histamines that may result in Scombroid poisoning. Certain tropical-water fish may also have a natural toxin called ciguatera which causes gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms.

Sushi eaters don't typically have to worry because sushi restaurants take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish. A required step involves freezing fish at temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) for seven days, or frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius) for 15 hours, which kills any parasites.

"As far as sushi goes, the rules are in place because people were getting sick," said Keith Schneider, a microbiologist and food safety expert at the University of Florida. "The parasites are why we do the freezing on the raw fish."

The cases of sushi-related illness fall far below the number of people sickened by contaminated produce such jalapeno peppers. Even in those rare cases, the rice in sushi is more often the culprit than the fish.

"I got sick eating sushi at a place I go to occasionally &mdash a fast food place, not a restaurant &mdash and I could swear I came out with bacillus cereus," Schneider told LiveScience.

The bacillus cereus bacteria can spread rapidly in rice that sits at room temperature. Sushi rice requires an acidic bath in a vinegary solution that lowers the PH to 4.1, killing troublemaking microbes and making sushi safer for the everyday foodie.

Don't walk on the wild side

Many sushi lovers feast contentedly on albacore or eel, but a few people aim for a more dangerous culinary experience by eating the raw flesh of a poisonous puffer fish called fugu.

Master fugu chefs sometimes include some of the poison in their prepared dish, which creates a tingly feeling on the lips when eaten. However, improperly prepared fugu can kill due to the fish's potent neurotoxin.

"I consider it more of a dare than a delicacy," Schneider said. "There are people who kill themselves every year trying to make fugu, and it gives sushi a bad name."

As for trying to make sushi with raw meat other than fish, best perish the thought.

"Raw chicken, raw beef has probably much greater risk," Schneider said, pointing to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can sicken thousands each year in the United States. "There are reasons you don't have chicken sushi."

No food is completely without risk, but smart consumers can eat sensibly and enjoy &ndash as long as fish are around.

Expert tips for happy sushi eating

  • The best bet for a good meal involves going to a restaurant or grabbing a sushi container from the local supermarket.
  • If you absolutely want to prepare your own sushi, buy sushi-grade fish that has been frozen per FDA regulations.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as possible, and do not let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.


Is Sushi Safe to Eat?

A Chicago man sued a restaurant in 2008 for allegedly serving him a parasitic tapeworm along with his salmon. So what about the sushi or sashimi that hungry buyers pick up to go during the lunch hour rush?

Sushi lovers need not fret about the raw fish they consume, food scientists say, as long as the sushi has been prepared properly according to regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. People preparing sushi themselves need to take extra care with both the raw fish and the rice.

The usual suspects

Raw fish poses several potential hazards for consumers besides parasites. Bacteria can develop in non-fresh fish and produce enzymes called histamines that may result in Scombroid poisoning. Certain tropical-water fish may also have a natural toxin called ciguatera which causes gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms.

Sushi eaters don't typically have to worry because sushi restaurants take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish. A required step involves freezing fish at temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) for seven days, or frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius) for 15 hours, which kills any parasites.

"As far as sushi goes, the rules are in place because people were getting sick," said Keith Schneider, a microbiologist and food safety expert at the University of Florida. "The parasites are why we do the freezing on the raw fish."

The cases of sushi-related illness fall far below the number of people sickened by contaminated produce such jalapeno peppers. Even in those rare cases, the rice in sushi is more often the culprit than the fish.

"I got sick eating sushi at a place I go to occasionally &mdash a fast food place, not a restaurant &mdash and I could swear I came out with bacillus cereus," Schneider told LiveScience.

The bacillus cereus bacteria can spread rapidly in rice that sits at room temperature. Sushi rice requires an acidic bath in a vinegary solution that lowers the PH to 4.1, killing troublemaking microbes and making sushi safer for the everyday foodie.

Don't walk on the wild side

Many sushi lovers feast contentedly on albacore or eel, but a few people aim for a more dangerous culinary experience by eating the raw flesh of a poisonous puffer fish called fugu.

Master fugu chefs sometimes include some of the poison in their prepared dish, which creates a tingly feeling on the lips when eaten. However, improperly prepared fugu can kill due to the fish's potent neurotoxin.

"I consider it more of a dare than a delicacy," Schneider said. "There are people who kill themselves every year trying to make fugu, and it gives sushi a bad name."

As for trying to make sushi with raw meat other than fish, best perish the thought.

"Raw chicken, raw beef has probably much greater risk," Schneider said, pointing to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can sicken thousands each year in the United States. "There are reasons you don't have chicken sushi."

No food is completely without risk, but smart consumers can eat sensibly and enjoy &ndash as long as fish are around.

Expert tips for happy sushi eating

  • The best bet for a good meal involves going to a restaurant or grabbing a sushi container from the local supermarket.
  • If you absolutely want to prepare your own sushi, buy sushi-grade fish that has been frozen per FDA regulations.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as possible, and do not let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.


Is Sushi Safe to Eat?

A Chicago man sued a restaurant in 2008 for allegedly serving him a parasitic tapeworm along with his salmon. So what about the sushi or sashimi that hungry buyers pick up to go during the lunch hour rush?

Sushi lovers need not fret about the raw fish they consume, food scientists say, as long as the sushi has been prepared properly according to regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. People preparing sushi themselves need to take extra care with both the raw fish and the rice.

The usual suspects

Raw fish poses several potential hazards for consumers besides parasites. Bacteria can develop in non-fresh fish and produce enzymes called histamines that may result in Scombroid poisoning. Certain tropical-water fish may also have a natural toxin called ciguatera which causes gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms.

Sushi eaters don't typically have to worry because sushi restaurants take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish. A required step involves freezing fish at temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) for seven days, or frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius) for 15 hours, which kills any parasites.

"As far as sushi goes, the rules are in place because people were getting sick," said Keith Schneider, a microbiologist and food safety expert at the University of Florida. "The parasites are why we do the freezing on the raw fish."

The cases of sushi-related illness fall far below the number of people sickened by contaminated produce such jalapeno peppers. Even in those rare cases, the rice in sushi is more often the culprit than the fish.

"I got sick eating sushi at a place I go to occasionally &mdash a fast food place, not a restaurant &mdash and I could swear I came out with bacillus cereus," Schneider told LiveScience.

The bacillus cereus bacteria can spread rapidly in rice that sits at room temperature. Sushi rice requires an acidic bath in a vinegary solution that lowers the PH to 4.1, killing troublemaking microbes and making sushi safer for the everyday foodie.

Don't walk on the wild side

Many sushi lovers feast contentedly on albacore or eel, but a few people aim for a more dangerous culinary experience by eating the raw flesh of a poisonous puffer fish called fugu.

Master fugu chefs sometimes include some of the poison in their prepared dish, which creates a tingly feeling on the lips when eaten. However, improperly prepared fugu can kill due to the fish's potent neurotoxin.

"I consider it more of a dare than a delicacy," Schneider said. "There are people who kill themselves every year trying to make fugu, and it gives sushi a bad name."

As for trying to make sushi with raw meat other than fish, best perish the thought.

"Raw chicken, raw beef has probably much greater risk," Schneider said, pointing to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can sicken thousands each year in the United States. "There are reasons you don't have chicken sushi."

No food is completely without risk, but smart consumers can eat sensibly and enjoy &ndash as long as fish are around.

Expert tips for happy sushi eating

  • The best bet for a good meal involves going to a restaurant or grabbing a sushi container from the local supermarket.
  • If you absolutely want to prepare your own sushi, buy sushi-grade fish that has been frozen per FDA regulations.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as possible, and do not let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.


Is Sushi Safe to Eat?

A Chicago man sued a restaurant in 2008 for allegedly serving him a parasitic tapeworm along with his salmon. So what about the sushi or sashimi that hungry buyers pick up to go during the lunch hour rush?

Sushi lovers need not fret about the raw fish they consume, food scientists say, as long as the sushi has been prepared properly according to regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. People preparing sushi themselves need to take extra care with both the raw fish and the rice.

The usual suspects

Raw fish poses several potential hazards for consumers besides parasites. Bacteria can develop in non-fresh fish and produce enzymes called histamines that may result in Scombroid poisoning. Certain tropical-water fish may also have a natural toxin called ciguatera which causes gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms.

Sushi eaters don't typically have to worry because sushi restaurants take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish. A required step involves freezing fish at temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) for seven days, or frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius) for 15 hours, which kills any parasites.

"As far as sushi goes, the rules are in place because people were getting sick," said Keith Schneider, a microbiologist and food safety expert at the University of Florida. "The parasites are why we do the freezing on the raw fish."

The cases of sushi-related illness fall far below the number of people sickened by contaminated produce such jalapeno peppers. Even in those rare cases, the rice in sushi is more often the culprit than the fish.

"I got sick eating sushi at a place I go to occasionally &mdash a fast food place, not a restaurant &mdash and I could swear I came out with bacillus cereus," Schneider told LiveScience.

The bacillus cereus bacteria can spread rapidly in rice that sits at room temperature. Sushi rice requires an acidic bath in a vinegary solution that lowers the PH to 4.1, killing troublemaking microbes and making sushi safer for the everyday foodie.

Don't walk on the wild side

Many sushi lovers feast contentedly on albacore or eel, but a few people aim for a more dangerous culinary experience by eating the raw flesh of a poisonous puffer fish called fugu.

Master fugu chefs sometimes include some of the poison in their prepared dish, which creates a tingly feeling on the lips when eaten. However, improperly prepared fugu can kill due to the fish's potent neurotoxin.

"I consider it more of a dare than a delicacy," Schneider said. "There are people who kill themselves every year trying to make fugu, and it gives sushi a bad name."

As for trying to make sushi with raw meat other than fish, best perish the thought.

"Raw chicken, raw beef has probably much greater risk," Schneider said, pointing to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can sicken thousands each year in the United States. "There are reasons you don't have chicken sushi."

No food is completely without risk, but smart consumers can eat sensibly and enjoy &ndash as long as fish are around.

Expert tips for happy sushi eating

  • The best bet for a good meal involves going to a restaurant or grabbing a sushi container from the local supermarket.
  • If you absolutely want to prepare your own sushi, buy sushi-grade fish that has been frozen per FDA regulations.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as possible, and do not let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.


Is Sushi Safe to Eat?

A Chicago man sued a restaurant in 2008 for allegedly serving him a parasitic tapeworm along with his salmon. So what about the sushi or sashimi that hungry buyers pick up to go during the lunch hour rush?

Sushi lovers need not fret about the raw fish they consume, food scientists say, as long as the sushi has been prepared properly according to regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. People preparing sushi themselves need to take extra care with both the raw fish and the rice.

The usual suspects

Raw fish poses several potential hazards for consumers besides parasites. Bacteria can develop in non-fresh fish and produce enzymes called histamines that may result in Scombroid poisoning. Certain tropical-water fish may also have a natural toxin called ciguatera which causes gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms.

Sushi eaters don't typically have to worry because sushi restaurants take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish. A required step involves freezing fish at temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) for seven days, or frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius) for 15 hours, which kills any parasites.

"As far as sushi goes, the rules are in place because people were getting sick," said Keith Schneider, a microbiologist and food safety expert at the University of Florida. "The parasites are why we do the freezing on the raw fish."

The cases of sushi-related illness fall far below the number of people sickened by contaminated produce such jalapeno peppers. Even in those rare cases, the rice in sushi is more often the culprit than the fish.

"I got sick eating sushi at a place I go to occasionally &mdash a fast food place, not a restaurant &mdash and I could swear I came out with bacillus cereus," Schneider told LiveScience.

The bacillus cereus bacteria can spread rapidly in rice that sits at room temperature. Sushi rice requires an acidic bath in a vinegary solution that lowers the PH to 4.1, killing troublemaking microbes and making sushi safer for the everyday foodie.

Don't walk on the wild side

Many sushi lovers feast contentedly on albacore or eel, but a few people aim for a more dangerous culinary experience by eating the raw flesh of a poisonous puffer fish called fugu.

Master fugu chefs sometimes include some of the poison in their prepared dish, which creates a tingly feeling on the lips when eaten. However, improperly prepared fugu can kill due to the fish's potent neurotoxin.

"I consider it more of a dare than a delicacy," Schneider said. "There are people who kill themselves every year trying to make fugu, and it gives sushi a bad name."

As for trying to make sushi with raw meat other than fish, best perish the thought.

"Raw chicken, raw beef has probably much greater risk," Schneider said, pointing to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can sicken thousands each year in the United States. "There are reasons you don't have chicken sushi."

No food is completely without risk, but smart consumers can eat sensibly and enjoy &ndash as long as fish are around.

Expert tips for happy sushi eating

  • The best bet for a good meal involves going to a restaurant or grabbing a sushi container from the local supermarket.
  • If you absolutely want to prepare your own sushi, buy sushi-grade fish that has been frozen per FDA regulations.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as possible, and do not let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.


Is Sushi Safe to Eat?

A Chicago man sued a restaurant in 2008 for allegedly serving him a parasitic tapeworm along with his salmon. So what about the sushi or sashimi that hungry buyers pick up to go during the lunch hour rush?

Sushi lovers need not fret about the raw fish they consume, food scientists say, as long as the sushi has been prepared properly according to regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. People preparing sushi themselves need to take extra care with both the raw fish and the rice.

The usual suspects

Raw fish poses several potential hazards for consumers besides parasites. Bacteria can develop in non-fresh fish and produce enzymes called histamines that may result in Scombroid poisoning. Certain tropical-water fish may also have a natural toxin called ciguatera which causes gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms.

Sushi eaters don't typically have to worry because sushi restaurants take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish. A required step involves freezing fish at temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) for seven days, or frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius) for 15 hours, which kills any parasites.

"As far as sushi goes, the rules are in place because people were getting sick," said Keith Schneider, a microbiologist and food safety expert at the University of Florida. "The parasites are why we do the freezing on the raw fish."

The cases of sushi-related illness fall far below the number of people sickened by contaminated produce such jalapeno peppers. Even in those rare cases, the rice in sushi is more often the culprit than the fish.

"I got sick eating sushi at a place I go to occasionally &mdash a fast food place, not a restaurant &mdash and I could swear I came out with bacillus cereus," Schneider told LiveScience.

The bacillus cereus bacteria can spread rapidly in rice that sits at room temperature. Sushi rice requires an acidic bath in a vinegary solution that lowers the PH to 4.1, killing troublemaking microbes and making sushi safer for the everyday foodie.

Don't walk on the wild side

Many sushi lovers feast contentedly on albacore or eel, but a few people aim for a more dangerous culinary experience by eating the raw flesh of a poisonous puffer fish called fugu.

Master fugu chefs sometimes include some of the poison in their prepared dish, which creates a tingly feeling on the lips when eaten. However, improperly prepared fugu can kill due to the fish's potent neurotoxin.

"I consider it more of a dare than a delicacy," Schneider said. "There are people who kill themselves every year trying to make fugu, and it gives sushi a bad name."

As for trying to make sushi with raw meat other than fish, best perish the thought.

"Raw chicken, raw beef has probably much greater risk," Schneider said, pointing to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can sicken thousands each year in the United States. "There are reasons you don't have chicken sushi."

No food is completely without risk, but smart consumers can eat sensibly and enjoy &ndash as long as fish are around.

Expert tips for happy sushi eating

  • The best bet for a good meal involves going to a restaurant or grabbing a sushi container from the local supermarket.
  • If you absolutely want to prepare your own sushi, buy sushi-grade fish that has been frozen per FDA regulations.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as possible, and do not let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.


Is Sushi Safe to Eat?

A Chicago man sued a restaurant in 2008 for allegedly serving him a parasitic tapeworm along with his salmon. So what about the sushi or sashimi that hungry buyers pick up to go during the lunch hour rush?

Sushi lovers need not fret about the raw fish they consume, food scientists say, as long as the sushi has been prepared properly according to regulations by the Food and Drug Administration. People preparing sushi themselves need to take extra care with both the raw fish and the rice.

The usual suspects

Raw fish poses several potential hazards for consumers besides parasites. Bacteria can develop in non-fresh fish and produce enzymes called histamines that may result in Scombroid poisoning. Certain tropical-water fish may also have a natural toxin called ciguatera which causes gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms.

Sushi eaters don't typically have to worry because sushi restaurants take certain steps in handling and preparing their fish. A required step involves freezing fish at temperatures of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) for seven days, or frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius) for 15 hours, which kills any parasites.

"As far as sushi goes, the rules are in place because people were getting sick," said Keith Schneider, a microbiologist and food safety expert at the University of Florida. "The parasites are why we do the freezing on the raw fish."

The cases of sushi-related illness fall far below the number of people sickened by contaminated produce such jalapeno peppers. Even in those rare cases, the rice in sushi is more often the culprit than the fish.

"I got sick eating sushi at a place I go to occasionally &mdash a fast food place, not a restaurant &mdash and I could swear I came out with bacillus cereus," Schneider told LiveScience.

The bacillus cereus bacteria can spread rapidly in rice that sits at room temperature. Sushi rice requires an acidic bath in a vinegary solution that lowers the PH to 4.1, killing troublemaking microbes and making sushi safer for the everyday foodie.

Don't walk on the wild side

Many sushi lovers feast contentedly on albacore or eel, but a few people aim for a more dangerous culinary experience by eating the raw flesh of a poisonous puffer fish called fugu.

Master fugu chefs sometimes include some of the poison in their prepared dish, which creates a tingly feeling on the lips when eaten. However, improperly prepared fugu can kill due to the fish's potent neurotoxin.

"I consider it more of a dare than a delicacy," Schneider said. "There are people who kill themselves every year trying to make fugu, and it gives sushi a bad name."

As for trying to make sushi with raw meat other than fish, best perish the thought.

"Raw chicken, raw beef has probably much greater risk," Schneider said, pointing to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can sicken thousands each year in the United States. "There are reasons you don't have chicken sushi."

No food is completely without risk, but smart consumers can eat sensibly and enjoy &ndash as long as fish are around.

Expert tips for happy sushi eating

  • The best bet for a good meal involves going to a restaurant or grabbing a sushi container from the local supermarket.
  • If you absolutely want to prepare your own sushi, buy sushi-grade fish that has been frozen per FDA regulations.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as possible, and do not let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.