Sunday, April 15, 2012


If you have read The Safe Food Handbook, you'll know that, much as we love it, sushi is not always all that safe. This especially applies to sushi made with raw fish, such as raw tuna. That is reportedly what was eaten by most of the 116 or more people in the U.S who have came down with Salmonella food poisoning, some of them hospitalized. Usually they ate “spicy tuna” sushi or sashimi in restaurants or bought it ready-made from grocery stores.

Here are the latest numbers on confirmed illnesses from this relatively unusual Salmonella Bareilly bacteria(remember - this will be only a small fraction of real numbers): Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (5), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), Georgia (5), Illinois (10), Louisiana (2), Maryland (11), Massachusetts (8), Mississippi (1), Missouri (2), New Jersey (7), New York (24), North Carolina (2), Pennsylvania (5), Rhode Island (5), South Carolina (3), Texas (3), Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (12).

You may think that your ready-to-eat store-bought or restaurant-ordered spicy tuna sushi or sashimi was made from a nice block of chopped up tuna sushimi. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. It is quite likely that it was made with the cheapest tuna, scraped off the bone of the fish ("Nakaochi Scrape" or tuna backmeat). This is basically the fish equivalent of ground meat - the least safe kind.

Nakaochi tuna is the kind responsible for the present outbreak. The responsible company - Moon Marine USA Corporation (also known as MMI) of Cupertino, Calif. is recalling 58,828 lbs of a frozen raw yellowfin tuna product, labeled as Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA (imported from who knows where). But it's doubtful most of it will ever be found or removed from the food supply. It has gone to other distributors and to restaurants and even to retail outlets in smaller and relabeled packages. That's industrialized food for you.

Just to be safe, you may want to avoid eating tuna sushi or sashimi for a while - both when eating out, or buying it ready-made, especially the "spicy tuna" kind.

To your good health,


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