Sushi: The Culprit of the Urban Tapeworm Problem?

Before you eat that oh-so-delicious piece of salmon sashimi, consider this: sushi (as well as undercooked fish) may be contributing to the growing problem of urban tapeworm ...

Once the bane of rural Japanese villagers, a paper in the June issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases reports on the spread of the the salmon tapeworm Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense. The parasite, which can reach lengths of 39 feet (12 meters), has been steadily increasing its global distribution and prevalence – mostly among yuppies with a hankering for sashimi and ceviche.

One hospital in Japan reported 14 cases last year, up from 3 cases in 2000. And starting in 2006, the tapeworm has been popping up for the first time in North America and Europe. Meanwhile, farm-raised salmon from South America have been plagued by a closely related tapeworm that normally infects perch and other freshwater fish.

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Freshwater fish are always a concern for parasites. In the US, sushi chefs freeze the salmon for one week to kill any parasites or eggs. If the fish you are eating raw is properly prepped, parasites are not a problem.

Undercooked salmon is another issue altogether. Since it is not prepped to be eaten raw, undercooking is very dangerous. Those fish meant to be eaten raw (anything in a sushi bar) are prepped with parasites in mind. Even tuna, which is a deep water ocean fish, is often frozen before being served 'fresh' and raw.

If you go to a good sushi restaurant, parasites will not be a problem. You are at a far greater risk eating undercooked beef and chicken at a western restaurant.
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I guess it's a good thing I moved to California and became a fish snob. I never realized how good fish could be until I ate it fresh. If I ever move inland, I think I'd have to stop eating sashimi :(
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I knew as soon as sushi started popping up everywhere next to pre-packaged sandwiches that we'd be seeing problems with it.

Fish is one of the most dangerous foods you can eat. Their environment is totally unregulated and polluted daily. I can't see how people even LIKE fish unless you're in some fancy New England restaurant right on the water where you know the fish is fresh... well fresher.
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