Attention roll and sashimi lovers: is the enjoyment of sushi worth the risk that it may pose to your health? This question has been on a lot of people’s minds following news of a major Salmonella outbreak in April that sickened 200 people in 31 states, including 11 Georgia residents, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Eating raw animal foods can certainly pose a greater risk to our health than cooked meat products or plant-based foods, but is the threat really all it is hyped up to be? Must we surrender our chopsticks, or should we just try to exercise more caution?
A recent press release issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) describes tuna scrape – the fish meat that was responsible for the recent Salmonella outbreak – as “tuna back meat, which is specifically scraped off from the bones and looks like a ground product.” Not only does that sound incredibly unappealing, it may not be as safe for human consumption as other cuts of fish.
In an interview for an NPR article, Michael Doyle, who is the director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, said that grinding animal products increases risk for foodborne bacteria to spread. He explained that, at least in the case of ground beef and turkey, risk for widespread contamination is more likely since bacteria can spread from one carcass to the entire batch. This same premise may hold true for fish, as well.
For many of us raw fish lovers, giving up sushi in an effort to avoid potential sickness is simply not an option. What sort of signs or symptoms should we look for to know when we may have been served contaminated fish? According to the Mayo Clinic, Salmonella symptoms generally appear anywhere from a few hours up to two days after consumption, and may last for four to seven days. Symptoms may include:
Most cases of Salmonella will clear up with adequate rest and continual fluid replacement, but for some—and particularly young children, the elderly, pregnant women, or those with weakened immune systems—medical attention may be necessary. Frustratingly, it may take several months for proper bowel function to be reestablished after a bout with Salmonella.
Want to enjoy an occasional sushi dinner, but cut back on the risk of food poisoning as much as possible? It might be a good idea to avoid rolls like the spicy tuna roll, which, according to the FDA, was one of the foods most commonly reported by people who got sick during the recent outbreak. Spicy rolls tend to utilize cut up pieces of fish, so it’s harder for restaurant patrons to tell what they are getting. Furthermore, the addition of mayonnaise and spices can be used to mask the flavor of fish that may be past its prime.
To play it completely safe, stick with rolls that feature cooked fish. If you are going to eat raw fish, order sushi that uses entire cuts of fish so you have a better sense of what you are eating. Give your favorite sushi restaurant a call, and find out what days they receive their seafood deliveries so you can dine out when the fish is at its freshest.
Have you or a loved one suffered from illness after having eaten food that was contaminated Salmonella, or another harmful pathogen? If so, you may be eligible for compensation from the food manufacturers that did not take adequate precautions to protect their customers. Contact our experienced attorneys today to learn about your rights and potential course of action.