Sushi is one of the most popular foods in the world. Unfortunately, it also carries with it certain risks that people need to be aware of. If you’re someone who can’t live without a sushi night, you need to understand these risks.
The history of sushi actually dates back 2,000 years to when rice was first cultivated in Japan. The modern form as we know it began in the 8th century when people wrapped fish in rice and fermented it to keep the fish fresh. It evolved over the years to become the food we know today.
One part of the ancient sushi method that modern sushi has kept is that most sushi is served raw. This is done so the diner can appreciate the full range of flavors in the particular roll or sashimi. Some rolls are deep fried, but the vast majority are served raw.
That rawness comes with a risk. Doctors are reporting seeing a common problem with people after eating raw sushi. As the food becomes more and more popular across the globe, more and more people are coming down with this illness.
The condition is called anisakiasis. It’s actually caused by a parasite that is found in marine mammals and fish. It’s transmitted when people eat fish infected with the parasite.
When a human is infected with this parasite, the tiny worms attach themselves to the stomach wall or the intestines of the host. These tiny worms can cause a variety of health problems in the eyes, liver, stomach, and the central nervous system.
The reason these cases have been slowly rising is because of how sushi is prepared. Many restaurants advertise that they serve completely fresh fish that has never been frozen. While this freshness may taste better, it is the cause of the parasite.
When fish is frozen, the parasite completely dies. Because of this, many countries actually require that all sushi fish be frozen before being served. If you aren’t sure if fish is frozen, ask the restaurant. If the fish has not been frozen, you’ll need to decide if this sushi is worth the risk of illness.
The good news is that the majority of these parasitic infections occur in Japan. In that country, almost all sushi is completely fresh, leading to an uptick in infections. But the numbers are growing worldwide, much to the chagrin of public health officials.
The good news is that, in most cases, these parasites simply die on their own. Even if left untreated, the larvae of these tiny worms cannot survive in the human body, so infection clears up on its own. For most people, it’s uncomfortable but it passes.
In rare cases, however, it can cause serious problems like bowel obstructions. In that case, a doctor will need to treat the problem to prevent it from becoming more serious. Odds are, however, that your infection won’t come to this.
The next time you eat sushi, make sure the fish has been frozen before being prepared. This way, you can be sure you won’t come down with an infection.