Spicy Tuna Sushi: The New “Pink Slime”?

Spicy tuna sushi.

I enjoy sushi. Before The Rapid Traveler — author of the Rapid Travel Chai weblog — moved to pursue new opportunities, we met several times not too far from where I am based to dine on sushi for lunch at a place where you can eat all the sushi you want for one price. It was one of his recommendations for a place to have lunch, and the food was very good. We would both leave satisfied and full. I would absolutely go back there again.

However, recent news that Spicy Tuna Sushi Linked To Salmonella Outbreak In 20 States — which has already sickened 141 people as of now — can cause a person to pause and second-guess whether dining at an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant is a wise idea. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Nakaochi Scrape — used in the preparation of some spicy tuna sushi — is “tuna backmeat that is scraped from the bones of tuna and may be used in sushi, sashimi, ceviche, and similar dishes.” This sounds eerily similar to the “pink slime” scandal where questionable parts of a cow are processed and used to create — I think this is one of the most creative euphemisms — “lean fine textured beef.” A debate on “pink slime” is currently ongoing in the OMNI forum. However — unlike “lean fine textured beef” — spicy tuna is not treated with ammonia.

While the likely source of the Salmonella Bareilly outbreak has reportedly been traced to the frozen raw yellowfin tuna product of Moon Marine USA Corporation, the cause of the Salmonella Bareilly is still unknown as of now and is still under investigation. The outbreak has been reported mostly in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

My advice is to know where you eat your sushi. Reputable chefs will only use sushi-grade ingredients, and no self-respecting sushi chef will use sub-par ingredients — even if they are not considered sushi-grade quality. Research reputable reviews of the restaurants to which you intend to consume sushi, and — while there is no guarantee you will get a completely truthful answer — ask the proprietors of the restaurants if they use fish “scrapings” for their sushi. If you are unusually queasy and averse to the possibility of eating the product in question, avoid eating spicy tuna sushi altogether and consume the wide variety of other kinds of sushi available — although I would have to say that I personally believe that is too extreme.

If you really want to take the proper precautions of not consuming tuna “scrapings” and you know your way around the kitchen, purchase some raw tuna at a reputable market, grind the fish yourself at home and create your own fresh spicy tuna sushi. You can customize it to your taste, and you might even save money.

I do not eat sushi as often as I would like, but I do still intend to eat it.

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