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Thread: Bacteria on Raw fish for sushi

  1. #1

    Safety of Raw fish for sushi

    I am curious if there is any danger in using a piece of raw fish for sushi from the supermarket aisle...? I've heard all kind of information of everything from contamination of bacteria from boards, knives, other fish, etc. that come in contact with tuna. I've even heard versions that certain fish are more prone to have issues when handled, even that fish that have been frozen has less probability of having issues.

    Does washing the piece of fish in cold water and patting down help at all? What should I looking for?

    I believe a lot of establishments use certified fish that are supplied for that specific purpose. How concerned should I be about using a piece of over the counter fish for sushi?

    Thanks to all for the help!!

  2. #2
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    Depends on how your supermarket handles the fish IMO.
    Freezing, thawing and re-freezing will destroy the tissues of the fish, making taste really bad, and may not help in keeping the bacteria count down. Some bacteria goes into "hibernation" when frozen/chilled and are not killed.
    How's the fish at your supermarket packaged? I prefer my whole fish to be sitting ON a bed of crushed ice, not touching water. If you are buying whole fish, do the usual checks for freshness.
    For filleted fish, the fillets should be DRY and chilled. Much like how the beef and lamb are displayed. Bacteria needs moisture to grow so once the flesh is exposed, it should be as dry as possible.
    Finally, depends on WHEN are you going to use that piece of fish. For raw eating, its best to finish it that day and not keep it. Otherwise, pat dry with kitchen paper and wrap in some dry, clean kitchen towels before storing in your CHILLER, separate from other meat items.
    Hope this helps

  3. #3
    Senior Member FryBoy's Avatar
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    By Googling "Fish Bacterial Contamination," I found this:

    Salmonella
    The gastrointestinal tracts of animals and man are common sources of Salmonella. High protein foods such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs are most commonly associated with Salmonella. However, any food that becomes contaminated and is then held at improper temperatures can cause salmonellosis. Salmonella are destroyed at cooking temperatures above 150 degrees F. The major causes of salmonellosis are contamination of cooked foods and insufficient cooking. contamination of cooked foods occurs from contact with surfaces or utensils that were not properly washed after use with raw products. If Salmonella is present on raw or cooked foods, its growth can be controlled by refrigeration below 40 degrees F.
    Doug Collins
    Hermosa Beach, California

  4. #4
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    I don't do it but I know one of my co-workers who regularly makes sushi from regular supermarket fish or frozen fish and she doesn't seem to get sick.

  5. #5
    I do it without concern, because I know what I am looking at. If you have a friend who is/was a sushi chef, take them with you! I often find suspect fish in "sushi-grade" departments.

    If you aren't talking an Asian market like H-Mart, you will likely be presented with only the safest, most sterilized fish, frozen for God knows how long, pumped full of coloring agents, and very often cooked to whatever degree they can get away with. Also they are banning Japanese seafood I've noticed WHICH IS TOTAL BULLCRAP, but that's another story.

    The tuna most grocers sell is tuna that was snap-frozen on a boat, thawed and processed, inspected, treated with Carbon Monoxide, and slow frozen, defrosted for your pleasure by your grocer. I don't buy it, but it has nothing to do with safety.

    Just go to a sushi joint! If you want the experience, just get a part time job there! :P

  6. #6

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    I heard all sushi grade means is that it was flash frozen at some point.. is this true?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by SilverHaze420 View Post
    I heard all sushi grade means is that it was flash frozen at some point.. is this true?
    I believe the FDA requires and/or recommends that all fish used for sushi in the US be frozen to kill some of the bacteria/parasites that could be in raw fish. Do sushi restaurants bring in fresh fish and then freeze it? No, of course not.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by FryBoy View Post
    By Googling "Fish Bacterial Contamination," I found this:

    Salmonella
    The gastrointestinal tracts of animals and man are common sources of Salmonella. High protein foods such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs are most commonly associated with Salmonella. However, any food that becomes contaminated and is then held at improper temperatures can cause salmonellosis. Salmonella are destroyed at cooking temperatures above 150 degrees F. The major causes of salmonellosis are contamination of cooked foods and insufficient cooking. contamination of cooked foods occurs from contact with surfaces or utensils that were not properly washed after use with raw products. If Salmonella is present on raw or cooked foods, its growth can be controlled by refrigeration below 40 degrees F.
    +1 Great info there. However, note that Salmonella growth is CONTROLLED and not STOPPED at -40 F. Neither is the bacteria that is already present destroyed.

    Anyways, if you truly wanna enjoy sushi without any worries at all, I recommend taking up johndoughy's suggestion haha. Otherwise, go to someplace like this:

  9. #9
    I would NEVER use fish from a supermarket for sushi. Most supermarkets do not have a dedicated fish table or cutting area so you're basically trusting the meat/fish department to properly clean down meat tables for their fish where they've also cut beef, pork and chicken.

    Additionally, most supermarkets do not have whole fish, except for trout. All of their fillets are brought in pre-cut, so the fish has been exposed to air (and potentially bacteria) from the moment it was processed. However, they do pack fish using the same equipment for beef, pork and chicken. This alone means that the quality of the fish is far lower than what is normally considered "sushi," "sashimi" or "A" grade. Most sushi grade fish are brought in whole and sold whole, or brought whole to the wholesaler and cut on site (e.g. tuna).

    Also, "sushi," "sashimi" or "A" grade is a reflection of the quality of the fish, which includes handling. Badly handled fish will NEVER get this grade as fish requires so much care in handling (from the manner in which it's caught to processing).

    Many fish are frozen at sea in commercial blast freezers to preserve fish for transport (some of the big fish boats are on the ocean for months at a time). Many tuna, especially Bluefin, are caught and frozen at sea. For example, at Tsukiji, there's a fresh tuna auction and a frozen tuna auction.

    However, from what I understand, any freshwater fish to be used for sushi or sashimi MUST be frozen because they may have freshwater bacteria, parasites, etc. that are harmful to humans. This includes ALL salmon and tilapia (commonly marketed as Izumidai). Otherwise, as in Japan, freshwater fish are cured in salt and/or vinegar. (However, in my experience, a short curing period is usually insufficient to kill parasites or organisms.)

    Freezing at below a certain temperature and for a certain amount of time (I don't recall the numbers) is supposed to kill parasites, but I don't believe this applied to bacteria. Therefore, a properly frozen piece of fish may not have parasites, but may have bacteria.
    Michael
    "Don't you know who he is?"

  10. #10
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    It actually depends on where in the world you are tho haha. The major supermarket chains in Singapore are all HACCP certified so they have different sections for fish, halal meats/poultry, normal meats and poultry. So I wouldn't mind getting fish from a supermarket for sushi, especially fish that can't be caught/reared locally and found at the fishery/wet market. If the fillets are pre-cut, if it is kept properly dry, in a clean and dry chiller that contains no other stuff, I would tend to trust it. Anyway, this pertains to the supermarket in Singapore and I can't comment on your supermarket as I haven't been there and seen the set-up and spoken to the fishmonger.

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