Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Raw chicken is generally considered not safe to eat. A lot of people eat sushi/sashimi though, and that's raw fish. So, how come that's safe (if it is)?

share|improve this question
4  
Edited to reflect that sushi is not raw fish –  hobodave Jul 23 '10 at 1:52
    
Sushi (寿司, 鮨, or 鮓?) is a Japanese dish consisting of cooked vinegared rice, which may or may not include any raw fish. –  Kevin Panko Aug 6 '10 at 21:44
1  
If it does, is it safe to eat? –  Lars Andren Aug 9 '10 at 1:00
1  
FYI: I once saw an email go around about a Japanese man that got worms in his brain from eating sushi. This story was completely made-up: somebody made something that looked like a cut-open brain with maggots in it (not tapeworms, as the story said - tapeworms are string-like) and invented a story to go with it to email around to gross people out. Lots of... let's just say people who don't think before they forward emails... didn't stop to wonder how millions of Japanese people eat sashimi regularly and don't have brain worms (and are the healthiest nation on Earth). So it spread pretty far. –  MGOwen Aug 9 '10 at 1:00

5 Answers 5

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I discussed a similar subject in this question: What exactly is "Sushi Grade" fish?

Raw fish isn't safe to eat if it's just been sitting around. However, the raw fish used in sushi/sashimi has been frozen (typically flash-frozen) in order to kill any parasites, making it as safe as any other food.

Most distributors of sashimi also have their own methods and internal regulations to ensure food safety, but specifics are understandably hard to come by. Suffice it to say, it's far safer to eat properly-prepared nigiri or sashimi than it is to eat an undercooked hamburger.

share|improve this answer
    
Ah, so it's frozen before eaten? I didn't know that, thanks! –  Lars Andren Jul 23 '10 at 3:46
2  
@Lars: It's frozen before preparation - it's obviously thawed before eating! –  Aaronut Jul 23 '10 at 13:49
    
Ah, oh yea, right. –  Lars Andren Jul 26 '10 at 0:22
    
Great Answer Aaronut!! –  AttilaNYC Aug 10 '10 at 0:13

I once watched a TV program in which a parasitologist was interviewed. Many kinds of meat and fish contain parasites that can cause harm to humans, and fish is no exception.

She said that the worms found in fish were easy to spot, to the trained eye, and that a good sushi chef would see them and not serve those pieces.

At the end of the interview, she was asked if there was any kind of food she would always avoid. She said she wouldn't easy sushi from a source she didn't trust fully.

Me, I love sushi too much to ever turn down the chance to eat it :D

share|improve this answer

The key to sushi is the quality and the freshness. The fresher, the better.

Much the same rational as steak tartare. To quote Anthony Bourdain, "The key to a successful steak tartare is fresh beef, freshly hand-chopped at the very last minute and mixed table-side"

Note that sushi is saltwater fish. Eating raw freshwater fish is not a good idea.

share|improve this answer
    
While fresher fish obviously tastes better, this actually has nothing to with the safety of sushi/sashimi fish. –  Aaronut Jul 23 '10 at 3:05
    
Thanks for the answer! Is eating freshwater fish a bad idea because they might contain more mercury and stuff? But that stuff is still there after it's been cooked though, right? –  Lars Andren Jul 23 '10 at 3:44
1  
As a general rule, freshwater fish species are not safe to eat raw, because they often contain parasites which can only be eliminated by cooking. –  nzpcmad Jul 23 '10 at 5:21

Sushi isn't 100% safe, but it's reasonably safe (I eat it all the time).

Different animals can harbor different diseases. Chicken are known to carry salmonella, which is pretty harmful to humans. Compare this to most types of sushi grade fish, which don't carry diseases as harmful.

This is also a matter of preparation. "Sushi Grade" fish is prepared very carefully with raw consumption in mind. If a chicken is raised guaranteed free of salmonella, or care is taken to make sure the muscle meat never came into contact with organs or feathers, it would be safe to eat raw. However, the fact is that almost no chicken meets that criteria as there seems to be no demand for raw chicken.

share|improve this answer

As mentioned in this question about raw chicken - some people and cultures do indeed eat raw chicken.

Notwithstanding that, to answer your question more directly, the main problem with eating raw meat, fish, or anything else, are bacteria, parasites and other pathogens.

A healthy animal, however, butchered appropriately, should have no specific issues. As such, we make beef tartare, sashimi (sushi refers to the rice, not the raw fish) and just enjoy!

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.