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Sushi Fights Back

By Amanda Ayers

I have always enjoyed sushi from the first time I ate it, however, after what happened to my brother, I am very hesitant to eat it again. My oldest brother, Julian, is the person in my family who showed me that raw fish is wonderfully tasty. He would always make sure that whenever the family and I came down to visit him we would go out for sushi at least once. So, when we went to visit him, and he venomously said no to going out to sushi I was very confused. When I asked what had happened, I was shocked. He had bitten into a piece of sushi and there was a squid bone in it. The bone pierced his tooth and went into his gums. After multiple infections and five root canals over the span of two years, the tooth was pulled.

The squid bone that ruined his tooth was essentially a fragment of a bigger piece. Squids do not have bones, but they do have this structural part called a pen, or gladius. It is the hard internal structure of the squid, it is their “backbone”. It is sharp and flexible. My brother said it felt like he bit down on a piece of glass if that gives you any indication of how sharp this gladius is. In a normal situation, the squid would have been cleaned properly and the chef’s station would have been cleaned of any remaining shards to prevent injury.

The problem for the public is the improper care and preparation of sushi. Getting bones in your sushi is rarer than getting food poisoning or tapeworms from it. Contracting food poisoning from sushi is very common and they have even narrowed it down to numerous bacterium; Vibrio, Listeriosis, Salmonella, and Bacillus Cereus to name a few (3). Raw or undercooked fish may also harbor the most common food-poisoning bacteria, Salmonella, which causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths in the US every year, according to the CDC (4). Imagine how many people a year suffer from these bacteria if only one of them causes 1.2 million cases a year! All people who experience this problem are people who have eaten sushi, and the more sushi you eat the higher your risk of infection. Whether you acquire food poisoning or receive a bone in your tooth, the problem is still the same! Improper care and preparation of sushi.

An organization I found that is trying to rectify the problem of improper sushi handling is called The All-Japan Sushi Skills Institute. The All-Japan Sushi Skills Institute is an institution based in Japan that looks to instruct and teach people from all over the globe the proper handling and technique for sushi preparation (2). They allow corporations to have their sushi chefs attend lectures and trainings for the proper technique for sushi preparation. The All-Japan Sushi Skills Institute allows corporations to have their sushi chefs attend lectures and trainings for the proper techniques online to raise the hygienic sushi preparations to reduce the amount of contaminated sushi around the world (2). They recommend that there needs to be a master training knowledge and certification system for sushi chefs that work elsewhere than Japan. The All-Japan Sushi Skills Institute wants to raise the amount of educated sushi chefs to increase safety of the public consuming sushi around the world.

If you enjoy eating sushi, make sure you know that the restaurant is reputable. You can do this in numerous ways. First, check the inspection scores. This can be a great indicator of whether the restaurant standards are passing by the health department. This can be found on the health department’s website. Another thing that you can do is look for certificates that show kitchen managers have completed food safety training (1). This can drastically reduce the chance of spreading foodborne illnesses. 

The fact that there are worse things that can happen to you than food poisoning from eating sushi is extremely concerning. Not to mention that a possibility is that you will lose a tooth! I believe that the proper care and technique for preparing sushi needs to be at a higher standard is an understatement. Whenever you go out to eat, always check for signs that a restaurant may not be up to par when it comes to health and safety standards. Wanting to go out to eat is a normal occurrence, however becoming injured from that is not.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, May 19). Food Safety and Eating Out. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/eatingout.html.
  2. English. 国際すし知識認証協会. (n.d.). https://www.sushi-ssi.com/english/. 
  3. Ingrid Koo, P. D. (n.d.). Can You Get an Infectious Disease When Eating Sushi or Sashimi? Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/diseases-associated-with-eating-sushi-1958814
  4. Scutti, S. (2018, August 31). The dangers of eating raw fish. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/30/health/raw-fish-vibrio-vulnificus-amputation/index.html. 

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