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Experts warn about sushi risks

Experts warn about sushi risks
As Japanese sushi conquers restaurants and homes around the world, industry experts are fighting the side-effects of the raw fish boom: fake sushi bars, over-confident amateurs, poisoned consumers.

Once a rare and exotic treat, seaweed rolls and bites of raw tuna on vinegared rice are now familiar to most food fans. So familiar, in fact, that many hobby cooks in Europe and the United States like to make them in their own kitchens.

But chefs and sushi experts at an international restaurant summit in Tokyo warned of a lack of awareness in handling raw fish among amateurs and some restaurateurs who enter the profitable industry without sufficient training.

“Everybody thinks: ‘sushi is so expensive — I can buy cheap fish, fresh fish, I can make it at home.’ It’s not true. Not every fish is suitable to eat raw,” chef and restaurateur Yoshi Tome told Reuters.

Tome’s restaurant, “Sushi Ran” in Sausalito, California, was awarded a Michelin star and he often advises customers on preparing Japanese food.

He sees himself as an educator as well as a chef, and believes that more and better training opportunities are needed to prevent food scandals that could hurt the entire industry.

“I get these questions all the time — people call me: ‘Hey Yoshi, my husband went to fish a big salmon, we’re looking to eat it as sashimi. We opened it and a bunch of worms came out. Can we eat it?”’

His answer: you cannot eat it as sashimi; but you can throw away the affected parts and cook and eat the rest.

In fact, Tome said salmon, which is prone to parasites, should never be eaten raw but be cooked, marinated, or frozen before being consumed.

He described another case in which an inexperienced restaurateur in the United States served raw baby crab. This lead to cases of food poisoning and prompted a recall of that type of crab. Tome serves the crab deep-fried at his restaurant and says it is perfectly safe if prepared the right way.

“Here in Japan, some people eat raw chicken, chicken sashimi. But we know chicken can have salmonella, so in the U.S. nobody eats raw chicken,” he added.
Published by Irene on Apr 1, 2008

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