Thursday, January 22, 2015

Can I Get Sick from Eating Sushi?

Hello, and thank you so much for your time. What are the odds of me contracting a parasite or salmonella poisoning from eating sushi at the local Japanese restaurant? How often do people get sick eating sushi on a daily basis? 
I love sushi but I'm in fear every time I eat it!
Andrea F. 

Hi Andrea,

I don't have any statistics but I can tell you it's extremely rare that anyone gets sick eating sushi in a restaurant. 

Every restaurant in the US is required to take safety precautions with all the food and by all the foodservice workers. This includes safe receiving temperatures, detailed storing practices, compulsive handwashing, and many other instructions to prevent food poisoning. Fish intended to be consumed raw (sushi) has even more strict temperature controls.

Safety inspections are conducted by the health department, unannounced, and if a restaurant is not keeping up with the strict protocol they are shut down. You can always ask to see the latest health inspection, which many eating establishments keep posted in the front of the restaurant.

Furthermore, if there is a case of food poisoning, it must be reported to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), and the local health department also gets involved. This is very bad publicity for the restaurant, so they definitely do NOT want anyone getting sick from their food!

If you still aren't sure about eating raw seafood, there are plenty of items on the menu that aren't raw: California rolls are usually cucumber, avocado and cooked crab (or imitation crab); eel and shrimp are usually cooked (you can tell when shrimp is pink that it has been cooked); and there are lots of vegetable and fruit sushi items.

I can tell you that I've personally never gotten sick from sushi, and have never known anyone else who has either. You probably have as much chance getting sick from eating in any restaurant (or anyone's home, for that matter) if they don't have sanitary cooking practices, so don't let sushi scare you :)


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