I have never been a fan of sushi, and I think it is because I have never been able to move past the idea of eating something raw. Isn’t that always what doctors say not to do?! My sister raves about the spicy tuna roll and is consistently attempting to trick me into eating it. Occasionally I am tempted, but the risk of food poisoning is too large. Or is it…?
Similar to any other uncooked meat, fish carries the risk of transmitting bacteria and/or parasites into your body. That is definitely about as fun as it sounds (in other words, not fun at all!!). Some examples of the dangers you are exposing yourself to are Scombroid poisoning, gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms, and even tape worm (Burger). Scombroid occurs when the fish is not prepared with the correct procedure for serving, and it begins to rot. The symptoms are similar to other common reactions of food poisoning (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. Find the complete list here). However, consuming raw fish can also lead to much more severe and life-long consequences. The neurological symptoms mentioned above are stemmed from a contamination that fish, existing in tropical waters, are born with, known as ciguatera (Burger). Some symptoms are dysfunction of the cerebellum (the area of the brain where coordination is monitored), and neuropathy (Pearn).
Neuropathy is especially serious because it effects multiple regions of the peripheral nervous system: the sensory nerves, the motor nerves, and autonomic nerves (Webberley). Both the sensory nerves and the motor nerves deal mostly with hands and feet; altering sensation with sensitivity to pain, tingling, and numbness, while also causing those limbs to become unstable. The autonomic nerves regulate internal organs, such as the liver and the heart. Without an effective transmission of information on how to operate, a low heart rate and high blood pressure are likely to generate (Webberley). A low heart rate can lead to an insufficient supply of blood entering the brain, and can cause dizziness, fainting, and in severe cases, cardiac arrest (American Heart Association). High blood pressure has similar symptoms of a low heart rate, however it also includes a possibility of anxiety (AHA).
I don’t know if I’m ever going to eat fish again!
Fortunately, the Food and Drug Administration carefully monitors the process in which the fish must be prepared in order to be edible. Usually when people look to purchase or order food they want the freshest of the bunch, but that’s not what you want when it comes to fish used for sushi. There are two options when it comes to readying the fish: freezing it for a week at a temperature of negative four degrees Fahrenheit, or if you want it ready for dinner tomorrow night, you can freeze it for only fifteen hours at negative 31 degrees Fahrenheit (Burger). Going through the full freezing process of the fish ensures that all of the parasites, that could infect you with any of the horrible and scary illnesses explained above, are killed off. In fact, the chance of you being affected by the fish’s bacteria is so low, that actually the risk of being infected by the rice in sushi is higher. Who knew?!
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“Bradycardia | Slow Heart Rate.” Heart. American Heart Association, 23 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.
Burger, Joanna. “Is Sushi Safe to Eat?” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 3 Oct. 2012. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.
Davis, Charles Patrick. “Scombroid Poisoning: Facts About This Fish Poisoning.” EMedicineHealth. N.p., 26 Mar. 2015. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.
Pearn, J. “Neurology of Ciguatera.” Neurology of Ciguatera. BMJ, 23 Aug. 2000. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.
Webberley, Helen. “Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 18 Mar. 2016. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.