Why You Should Think Twice About Ordering Sushi

May 11th 2017

Kyle Fitzpatrick

For lovers of sushi, the cuisine is more than something exotic: it’s a healthy meal that is imperiled by climate change.

Unfortunately, there's a risk associated with this raw food: parasites.

Anisakiasis is a pervasive disease in fish caused by parasitic worms whose eggs are carried around by the host — and those might be in your sushi. The larvae are easy to pass along in uncooked fish and, upon consumption, inspire vomiting, diarrhea, mild fever, and more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of anisakiasis include tingling as a result of the microscopic worms moving within your body.

The illness is nothing new, but it has recently attracted attention after a push by doctors for people to be more mindful when eating sushi, a push that comes after a Portuguese man’s visit to a Japanese restaurant led to him being diagnosed with the disease. According to CNN, "Though treatment is not always necessary, removal by endoscopy may be necessary to alleviate symptoms."

Fortunately, the illness isn't passed from person-to-person.

For lovers of sushi, this is a bad news. Cooling or heating fish before eating can help, though.


Experts have found that deep freezing fish can eliminate parasites. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, freezing raw fish to approximately -31º Fahrenheit for fifteen hours, or approximately -4º Fahrenheit for seven days, can eliminate the risk.

While that may seem extreme and exhausting, another other option is to cook fish to an internal temperature of at least 145º Fahrenheit.

If dining out, take comfort in the fact that deep freezing is a common practice among sushi chefs. In fact, flash freezing fish is an industry standard.

Your best bet? Invest in what you eat.

To avoid suffering caused by unfresh fish, seek out quality products and quality establishments that follow best practices. Saving a few bucks isn't worth a bunch of parasites.