Why is it OK to Eat Raw Fish in Sushi?

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?!



Image 1: http://www.aceforum.co.uk/index.php?/topic/963-am-i-fright/&page=5

Image 2: http://www.tottonooga.com/faqs.html

“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.






5 thoughts on “Why is it OK to Eat Raw Fish in Sushi?

  1. Griffin Lambert Brooks

    Sushi has to be one of my favorite foods to eat. Im counting down the days until they have sushi at Findlay commons at East Halls. Fish in general is just a blessing sent to humans. Not only is it healthy for you but it tastes delicious. Sushi or sashimi is a delicacy and the fish in them are actually flash frozen as soon as they’re caught. I know this because my uncle is a deep sea fishermen and fishes for tuna- which is a big fish that is put in sushi, marlin, salmon, and many more. My rule of thumb when I’m eating uncooked food is that if its served to you and looks good…eat it. I recall when I was younger my parents not allowing me to eat raw fish in sushi due to the antibodies it had and my immune system not being able to handle anything bad if there was some bacteria on them.
    Here is a link to reasons why sushi is healthy for you.

  2. Allison Maria Magee

    I find this post so interesting and also very relatable to me. I have never been a sushi person for the same reasons as you, raw foods scare me. My mother always warned about the health disadvantages of eating raw food. In fact, when I was little I had some uncooked brownie batter which included raw eggs and I actually got salmonella. Ever since that experience, I have never eaten raw foods. A lot of my friends think I’m crazy, but I would never want to go through that experience again. In case you don’t know was salmonella is here is a link to explain it a little bit:

  3. Patrick Winch

    I’ll start off by saying that I always took the same approach that you do. I always thought it was extremely strange and even somewhat gross to be eating raw fish. But one day in 8th grade, for some reason, I decided to give sushi a try. Not only did I get sick, but I got a stomach virus from it that left me throwing up for the next day or so. For all I know, the virus could’ve very well been caused by something else, but to this day, I still can’t go near sushi or smell sushi without feeling somewhat nauseous. The article attached talks about some of the things that can happen to a person who eats contaminated seafood.


  4. Connor Edward Opalisky

    I have never really thought of eating sushi as being a risk toward my health. I grew up eating it so i always assumed it was safe to eat, but it is an interesting discussion. Thankfully I am reassured that it is completely okay for my health, which is a relief. This article also made me curious about the origin of sushi in America. Interestingly enough it didn’t start becoming a popular dish until the 1980’s when a chef invented the California roll in Los Angeles. (Sushi In America). There are now tens of thousands of sushi restaurants in America and it continues to be a common meal. Here is a link to the Sushi in America article where you can learn more about the history of sushi in the USA http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/effects-skipping-meals

  5. Brandon Ross Armitt

    This blog definitely caught my attention by just looking at the title. Personally from being someone who really likes eating sushi, I became really concerned really quickly just from the title. I have been consuming sushi for many years now and not once have I experienced a sickness as a result. Maybe I’m lucky but I figured that couldn’t be the case, it would be bound to happen eventually. But when I got down to the last paragraph and it talked about the Food and Drug Administration, it started to all make sense. If there was so much skeptism about the safety of a food product, it would be handed or not offered. It makes me feel a little better learning that the freezing process of the fish ensures safety and its quite interesting you are maybe more likely to get sick from the rice.

    Attached is a link that talks about the basic concerns regarding the consumption of sushi:

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