Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Raw Fish Is Not as Dangerous as You Think

The New York Times recently took on the myth of raw fish being excessively risky for your health.

In the article, they begin by showing how in the US, doctors tell pregnant mothers to avoid raw fish. However, in Japan (
where people actually live longer), they actually encourage pregnant mothers to eat it. Are Japanese doctors crazy? It’s possible, but not likely. “The Japanese government is fanatical about public health, and Japanese medical scientists are among the best in the world,” explains the Times.

So what’s going on? As usual, Americans have distorted the facts to create their assumptions. Most shocking about this is that this distortion actually affects medical “science.” But anyhow…

Raw mollusks (oysters and clams), not fish, are the primary cause of seafood-related illness in the US. In fact, raw oysters and clams account for 85 percent of cases, according to the Times report. Pull that out of the equation and the chances of getting sick from seafood are 1 in 1,000,000. Still scared? Consider this: with chicken, you have a 1 in 25,000 chance.

As I learned in the Times, there are a few reasons that raw fish is relatively safe in the US. One, FDA guidelines require fish is flash-frozen before serving. “This freezing kills any parasites as sure as cooking would.”

Another reason you’re chances of getting sick with raw fish are slim is the type of fish that ends up as sushi. “Most species used for sushi don’t have parasites,” reports the times. Tuna, for example, usually hang out in very deep, cold water that makes them less prone to parasites. Also, sushi restaurants usually stick to farm –raised salmon which don’t have the same parasite problems that wild salmon do. Finally, fish that usually have parasites (for example, cod and whitefish) don’t usually end up on sushi menus.

But who cares if we eat raw fish or not? Fish is healthy, and the reputation that raw fish gets means some “are being scared off fish altogether.”

So don’t be scared.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.