General Question

nocountry2's avatar

Is it possible to get addicted to sushi?

Asked by nocountry2 (3684points) September 10th, 2008 from iPhone

Why do I think about and crave it all the time??

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16 Answers

JackAdams's avatar

It is possible to get addicted to anything, I believe.

Just keep in mind, please, that the eating of raw fish is not all that healthy for you, nor anyone else.

nocountry2's avatar

Really. I feel very healthy afterwards.

JackAdams's avatar

You won’t, for long…

JackAdams's avatar

Here is an article about what can happen, from eating raw seafood:

Chicago Man Acquires Nine-Foot Tapeworm
But is this reason enough to swear off raw salmon?

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago resident Anthony Franz is suing a local restaurant over a salmon salad served to him back in August 2006. He allegedly “became violently ill for several days” after eating the salmon and later “passed a 9-foot tapeworm.” The Sun-Times says:

The lawsuit against Shaw’s Crab House, 21 E. Hubbard, and its parent company, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, claims the restaurant’s staff was negligent in serving him undercooked fish.

Franz, who was not available for comment, wants more than a refund. He’s seeking $100,000 for his pain, suffering, lost time from work and ‘lost enjoyment of life.’

In a story for, Jon Rowley shares a few more horror stories about Diphyllobothrium latum, the “largest human tapeworm,” which is “carried by freshwater fish (including anadromous wild salmon, which spend their early lives in fresh water).” And as Jasmine Pahl noted in her CHOW feature on the dangers of raw fish, “Most varieties of fish, both wild and farmed, are prone to parasites.” Both Rowley and Pahl share guidelines for cooking or freezing fish in order to kill those pesky parasites, but how do you know if all the raw salmon you’ve eaten at restaurants has been previously frozen? Rowley has a little bit of comforting news: “Japanese chefs, at least those who have passed the exam that is required for opening a restaurant in Japan, never serve fresh salmon raw or lightly seared—’has to be frozen for sushi,’ stresses sushi master Shiro Kashiba, of Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant in Seattle.”

Unfortunately, as that fellow from Chicago found out the hard way, not every restaurant prefreezes its raw salmon. It’s pretty gross to think about, but as someone who has consumed quite a bit of deli-counter sushi during lunch breaks in Midtown Manhattan, I’m kind of surprised I haven’t had a tapeworm nightmare of my own—and none of the adventurous eaters in my life have acquired parasites from raw fish, either.

You can find the above article here.

wenbert's avatar

I don’t eat salmon. Tuna sushi FTW.
do tape worms infect deep water fish like tuna?
like nocountry2, i love sushi :D

JackAdams's avatar

Sushi – the raw truth

Last updated at 11:58 04 April 2006

Sushi can contain a cocktail of chemicals, heavy metals and pesticides

Millions think it’s the ultimate health fast food – but sushi is tainted by harmful chemicals and packed full of calories, fat and salt…

The shaven-headed ‘sushi master’ bends over a choice cut of raw tuna. His head cocks slightly to one side as he sizes up the moist, firm flesh. After a moment’s meditation, he slices up the tuna into a dozen bite-size morsels with a series of swift knife strokes.

The slivers of fish are then laid lovingly atop small mounds of fragrant Oriental rice smeared with hot wasabi sauce. Simple, clean and fresh, sushi is the epitome of 21st century eating. Delicate fish, rich in essential oils, and nori seaweed loaded with minerals, are helping sushi to become the definitive lunch option for health conscious 20 and 30-something Britons.

Such is sushi’s growth in popularity that it’s now outselling the traditional BLT sandwich in many places. It is fast becoming a national staple alongside ploughman’s, pizza and curry. But as the young and upwardly mobile tuck in, they would undoubtedly be horrified to learn what lies behind the neat little packets of rice and fish, wrapped in seaweed.

Chemical cocktail

The Mail can reveal that far from being a healthy alternative to the sandwich, sushi contains a cocktail of chemicals, heavy metals and pesticides which can potentially lower intelligence, reduce fertility and even lead to cancer. They are also, despite their healthy image, laden with calories.

Rising sushi consumption is also leading to the destruction of some of the world’s last great sea fisheries, as well as helping despoil the pristine lochs of western Scotland.

“If you eat a meal of salmon sushi more than twice a year, you will increase your risk of cancer,” says Professor David Carpenter, an environmental health scientist at the University at Albany, New York.

“The contaminants found in fish often overpower its beneficial effects. People think they’re improving their health by eating sushi but they are in fact poisoning themselves.”

Sushi is a simple food made from rice steeped in vinegar and topped with a variety of fish – most commonly in Britain, raw tuna, prawn and salmon – called nigiri sushi.

Its staple ingredients are, most commonly, rolled up inside a wrap of nori seaweed to produce the Oriental equivalent of the sausage roll. These rolls – called maki or California rolls – are then sliced into bite-size pieces, allowing them to be eaten with chopsticks, and they’re becoming increasingly popular in Britain. They are sold with nigiri sushi in packs known as ‘bento’ lunchboxes. The dinky little packages contain chopsticks, a tiny bottle of soy sauce, a heap of pickled ginger and a blob of hot wasabi sauce.

But a single California roll, containing crabstick and avocado, can easily contain 400 calories and 2g of salt. Many lunch boxes contain several of these mini rolls, so it’s easy to over-indulge on carbs, fat and salt without realising it.

Compared to the quintessentially British egg and cress sandwich, which has around 250 calories, a sushi box is hardly a slimmer’s delight.

According to Professor Tim Lang, a food policy expert at City University in London: “The problem arises because we’re trying to bolt sushi on to our national diet, which is full of highly processed food already high in salt and fat.

“Sushi comes from a culture that is inherently healthy. You can’t just add sushi to our way of life and expect to get the same benefits.”

Nonetheless, cashing in on the ever-increasing desire for healthy food, sushi bars are springing up and exploit the fashionable desire for people to see their food lovingly prepared – in this case – in front of their eyes by dextrous chefs. But, like the bento boxes, these restaurants are only the final link in a long chain that begins in the polluted salmon lochs of Scotland and the filthy seas of southern Europe and the Far East.

The stench of old fish and diesel fills the air in a busy fish processing plant in southern Spain. The incessant hum of machinery is so powerful you feel they might shake your teeth loose.

Every half hour or so a truck roars into the factory laden with tuna from the warm, yet polluted, waters of the Mediterranean. Dozens of workers clad in white overalls rush to attention and start toiling alongside conveyor belts liberally covered in tuna blood.

Each worker grabs a 5ftlong fish and slices open its pinkish belly before reaching inside and ripping out its innards. Within a few minutes, the tuna has been cleaved, beheaded and ‘flash frozen’ into rectangular blocks, ready for the sushi bars and supermarkets of Britain, America – and Japan.

In the intensity of the processing factory, the workers can be forgiven for overlooking the odd fish infested with parasitic worms. Spotting their tiny larvae is even more difficult, if not impossible, so the tuna bound for supermarkets is frozen for 24 hours at minus 20C to kill off the worms.

However, if diners are sensitive to worms – as many people are – they react to the dead worms in the tuna. Initial queasiness will swiftly lead to severe stomach pain and vomiting which will last for a few days.

Small worms

There is also fish – particularly that which is prepared in small restaurants – that is not frozen and still contains live worms. Eating this can cause serious intestinal problems. In extreme cases, the worms will trigger anaphylaxis, a potentially lethal reaction similar to that suffered by people with nut allergies. Vicious bugs such as salmonella and even typhoid can also be passed on through sushi, largely because the flesh is eaten raw.

However, in the long term, these bugs and worms are likely to be the least of your worries. Tuna and salmon are loaded with mercury and a mix of nasty industrial chemicals such as dioxins, pesticides and PCBs, which have been dumped in our seas and oceans.

And once eaten, these poisons stay in the body for decades, reducing fertility and steadily weakening the immune system and potentially causing cancer.

Professor David Carpenter and his team at the prestigious Universities of Cornell, Indiana and Albany, recently studied the levels of these poisons in salmon fished from waters around the world. His work makes for uneasy reading.

Out of the 15 poisons detected in frighteningly high amounts, 13 are carcinogenic. These poisons have also been linked to falling sperm counts, rising birth abnormalities, testicular and breast cancer, endometriosis and early puberty.

And if all that wasn’t enough, some scientists worry that they may be acting as ‘gender benders’ by making young boys more feminine and girls more masculine, which may also affect sexual orientation later in life.

The scientists also found worrying levels of these pollutants in farmed salmon, especially those from Scotland. Professor Carpenter’s team was so shocked by the findings of their study, which remains the biggest and most comprehensive so far, that they recommended people eat farmed salmon at most twice a year.

His findings are brushed off by the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO). Spokesman Ken Hughes says: “The health benefits of eating oil-rich fish, such as salmon, outweigh any potential risks from contaminants that are ubiquitous in the environment.”

Mercury levels

Like salmon, tuna sushi is often touted for its healthiness because it is rich in the omega three fatty acids. But it is also loaded with a particularly toxic form of mercury. An analysis of sushi from restaurants in Los Angeles in February, found dangerous levels of mercury in a quarter of the samples tested. Three quarters were above limits set by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and its US equivalent, which permits one thousandth of a gram of mercury per kilo of fish.

This may not sound like a lot but it is two and a half times the amount permitted by the Japanese government because mercury has a cumulative effect and can build up in the body.

The FSA advises pregnant women not to eat shark, swordfish or marlin – and to eat only two tuna steaks a week – because of the high levels of mercury found in these fish. Although no one has analysed mercury levels in sushi in the UK, given that tuna is traded internationally, it is reasonable to suppose that they would be much the same as in LA.

In adults, the most common effect of methyl mercury poisoning is paresthesia, a sensation of prickling or tingling on the skin. People may also feel sick and generally off-color. Children – and fetuses – are particularly vulnerable. Mercury can reduce their intelligence and lead to behavioral problems.

Disturbing though Professor Carpenter’s findings are for humans, the environment may be paying an even higher price for our new found love of sushi.

Every year, thousands of dolphins turtles, sharks and seabirds drown in tuna nets. Several species of tuna have already been driven to the edge of extinction.

Salmon farming can cause massive environmental problems, releasing chemical pollutants into the sea and consuming vast amounts of ‘fish chow’ – made from young fish caught at sea – leaving bigger fish such as cod, herring and mackerel to go hungry.

All of these problems have led some experts to conclude that the pleasures gained from eating sushi come at too high a cost.

Find this story at—raw-truth.html

shadling21's avatar

That’s why I order the Chicken Teriyaki roll.

panspermia's avatar

yeah it is possible but if you’ll try for the first time pls don’t sauce the wasabi :)

wenbert's avatar

so short, it is more dangerous to eat fresh sushi? let’s say within less than 24 hours after the fish is caught because it has not been frozen yet? (the article above states that it needs to be frozen for 24 hours at minus 20C)...

Gbach's avatar

certainly I know for a fact that me and my gf are, some good California rolls for example of the eel sushi wow I think I might go Down and order some right now. Try to go where Japanese people go and dont drown ur sushi in spja sauce it kills the taste

JackAdams's avatar

I forgot to mention that -20°C is -4°F, according to here.

flameboi's avatar

yep, but for a technical answer, ask shilolo :) he is the doc here

GAMBIT's avatar

You can get addicted to anything and everything. I think we need to ask is your addiction healthy meaning does it interfere with your daily life or put you at risk for life threatning ailments. If so then maybe it would be best to cut bake on your sushi consumption. I would ask myself. Do I have to have sushi to make myself feel better? Do I think about sushi frequently? Do I spend most of my time and money at the sushi bar? Do I eat sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Do I only go to a party if I know they will be surving sushi? If I answer yes to most of these questions I would say yes I am addicted to sushi.

Some health risks may arise with large amounts of seafood consumption such as a high content of mercury which may be harmful to your kidneys. Also undercooked seafood can lead to anisakiasis which is an infection of worms.

JackAdams's avatar

Didn’t I already mention something like that?

Thanks for the back-up!

Sloane2024's avatar

Lol, @ GAMBIT If someone was randomly reading your response out of context, it would sound like you were counseling a sushi psychopath on their addiction, which is incredibly hilarious! :P LURVE FOR U!!

tupara's avatar

I find that very fresh, especially raw, seafood does seem to have a drug-like effect that it loses after a few hours.Try fresh raw kina (sea urchin roe) and you feel quite a buzz. My entire culture could be said to be addicted to seafood. When I’m fishing with fresh bait I often get in trouble for eating it all.

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