Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Freshly"" Frozen Sushi!

Originally posted on Friday, March 2, 2007

"Freshly" Frozen Sushi!-a fascinating expose of the "fresh sushi " myth appeared in the April 8, 2004 edition of New York Times, by Julia Moskin.

Consumers have a right to know and make choices based on informed decisions--here is our take on the issue:

The general sushi/sashimi eating public creates and propagates urban legends based upon particular chef’s “being in the know” for access to "just come out of the ocean" fish and other seafood and spending his/her early morning hours perusing local “fresh” fish markets.

This sushi eating public might not realize that fresh frozen seafood for sushi or sashimi consumption and is also commonly used in sushi restaurants, whether its referred to as: "fresh-frozen, freshly-cooled, previously frozen and thawed, re-freshed, flash-chilled"-- take your pick-its all frozen!

Most would be even more surprised to learn that if the sushi has not been frozen, it is illegal to serve it in the United States.The Japanese Restaurants Association of Southern California is not in a hurry to advertise as to why most seafood are “always in season (freezer?)”.

Some, actually, take pride in the fact that they do not use mictowaves to thaw the fish slated for sushi!

Shipping seafood from overseas by airplane would make the cost of most products impractical. Shipping high quality seafood by ship, in a frozen state, allows for a reasonable price for the consumer.

Many seafood items from around the world are prepared specifically for sushi or sashimi and are only imported in a frozen state.

I wonder how many fine “fresh” sushi restaurants tell customers upfront that they may be eating fish that has been in deep freeze for up to two years!

Modern fishing trawlers are virtual fishing factories at sea-seafood they harvest is cleaned, processed and flash frozen aboard ship within hours.

Many fish and shellfish (with the exception of tuna) that is suitable for eating raw must be must be frozen for seven days at negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit flash frozen within hours of harvest, and than must be kept for 15 hours at negative 31 degrees., or frozen for seven days at negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

But tuna is often frozen, too, not necessarily to make it safe, but because global consumption of sushi continues to rise.

Frozen fish usually costs about half as much wholesale as fresh. And some cuts, like the prized fatty toro, are practically unavailable fresh.A

At 76 degrees below zero, one can feel one’s hair follicles freeze. A 20-pound chunk of premium bluefin tuna is rock hard and cold enough to burn a blister on one’s finger.

But all it takes is a band saw, 10 minutes and a bowl of warm water to produce deep red, dewy slices of the finest sushi money can buy, the same toro served big cities sushi shrines.

There is only one question one should ask about "fresh" seafood: how long it traveled to distributors, whether it was kept cold enough in route to maintain its flavor and safety, or how long it has been on ice?.

Many fish and shellfish are "flash frozen" within hours of harvest. It might take several days for the same seafood to make it to your local seafood dealer as "fresh".

Fish from most supermarkets are up to weeks old, and not always properly taken care of, which is why they are not usually safe to eat raw.

It is important to remember that it will only be safe to eat raw for up to 2 days if properly stored.For safety reasons raw seafood is not recommended for people with poor immune systems.

Also, all freshwater fish which includes our salmon must be frozen to kill possible parasites, bacteria and viruses.

A parasite is a living organism dependent on a host for which it takes nourishment. It grows naturally in many animals and can be transmitted to humans and cause illness.

One of the major human health hazards of consuming uncooked, undercooked or unfrozen seafood are the parasites, particularly, nematodes, or roundworms, tapeworms and flukes.

Parasites occur in mackerel, squid, cod, haddock, fluke, pacific salmon, herring, flounder, monkfish, anchovy, and tuna.Within one to six hours after the ingestion of infected larvae, violent abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting may occur.

Bacteria and viruses that cause disease do not normally occur in the part of the fish that is eaten, the intact muscle.However, fish fillets and steaks can become contaminated by improper handling, storage, or preparation.

There are many different types of bacteria, but one in particular is associated with the rice used to make sushi.

Bacillus cereus is a spore forming bacterium commonly found in soil, dust, and raw foods which when ingested can cause profuse watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea.Another bacteria associated with seafood is Yersinia enterocolitica.

These bacteria are transmitted to humans by cross-contamination from raw to cooked seafood, the consumption of raw seafood, and temperature abuse.

When bacteria are ingested it causes diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fever. Vibrio spp. is a bacterium that is commonly found in oysters and other shellfish (lobster, shrimp, clams and mussels.

Having placed all of relevant rules and regulations on the books, the FDA does not enforce the frozen-fish rule, leaving that to local health officials.

The agency says sushi fish can be frozen either by the producer, the wholesaler/distributor, or by the restaurant, and each party likes to believe that the other is taking care of it.

This uncontrolled “cross-reliance” can result in either “fresh” fish frozen and re-frozen 3-5 times, or simply unsafe for raw consumption by the general public resulting in food-borne illnesses and deaths.

Be Well!

This article is to be used for education and general discussion purposes only. It does not constitute medical opinion and should not be used for or relied upon as medical advice. Publication of this article does not create physician-patient relationship between the reader and the author. Dr.Dorodny assumes no responsibility and/or liability for any and all actions and/or inactions by any person(s) as a result of this article. The article does not contain comprehensive description of the subject issues discussed. It is based on present medical knowledge which is subject to change and is unclear in numerous respects. The issued discussed in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The issues discussed can not be resolved without specific analysis of the specific circumstances of each person. The readers should consult with their individual health care/wellness professional to resolve their individual situation.

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