Is Sushi for You?


Cook it thoroughly. Cook it thoroughly. Cook it thoroughly! That’s the most important thing to know about preventing food-borne illness.

The FDA advises consumers to cook meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 71° Celsius (160° Fahrenheit). Fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 60° C (140° F), flake easily, and be firm and opaque, or dull. If it’s translucent, or shiny, it’s not done.

“Proper cooking should kill most parasites,” says George Jackson, Ph.D., of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, “but you’ve got to be careful that it’s not just the outside that’s getting all the heat. Trichinella, for instance, is on the inside of the meat. Anisakids in fish might be on the outside of the fillet, but they could also be in the fillet.”

This is especially important to remember with microwaving, because the food often does not heat evenly. Rotate the dish once or twice during cooking, observe the standing time called for in the recipe or package directions, and check for doneness with a thermometer after removing it from the microwave oven. Insert the thermometer at several different spots.

Raw Fish

Raw fish dishes, such as sushi and ceviche, can be safe for most people to eat if they are made with very fresh fish that is commercially frozen and then thawed.

In 1990, the FDA issued an advisory to state and local regulatory agencies, recommending that fish served raw, marinated, or partially cooked be blast-frozen to -35° C (-31° F) or below for 15 hours or frozen by regular means to minus 23° C (-10° F) or below for seven days.

People with immune disorders should not eat raw fin fish or shellfish because, although freezing kills most parasites, it does not kill bacteria. People with immune disorders need to take extra precautions to thoroughly cook all meat, fish, and poultry.

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