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Food safety risks in Sushi & Sashimi

The Sushi Restaurants market is said to rise at a significant rate during the estimated period, between 2023 and 2030. As per strategic key players in 2022, the market was growing at a steady pace and the market is expected to rise over the estimated ceiling.Sushi, the Japanese delicacy, has its devoted following. The carefully curated and cooked vinegared rice roll with fish or seafood or raw vegetables has quite a fan base in India, especially in all the mega metros, and a recent survey by an online food platform reaffirms it.
So, what is Sushi & Sashimi? 
Sushi is food consisting of cooked and pressed rice flavoured with vinegar and garnished with other food ingredients including raw or cooked vinegared seafood, marine fish or shellfish roe, vegetable, cooked meat or egg, which may or may not be wrapped in seaweed. 
Sashimi is food consisting of fillets of marine fish, molluscs, crustaceans, fish roe or other seafood to be eaten in its raw state. where they may be cured or pickled.
Sushi and Sashimi pose food safety risks due to two main ingredients - raw fish and cooked rice. 
Raw seafood: used in sushi and sashimi may contain the Parasite Anisakis*simplex. (Anisakis simplex: known as the herring worm, is a species of nematode in the genus Anisakis. Like other nematodes, it infects and settles in the organs of marine animals, such as salmon, mackerels and squids.)
Rice: is cooked, cooled and then used to prepare sushi rolls. The spore-forming Bacillus cereus bacteria naturally contaminate raw rice. The rice cooking process kills the vegetative cells of the bacteria but does not kill the spores. Time and temperature abuse of the hot cooked rice in the danger zone and pH of 4.6 to 7.5 results in the germination of Bacillus cereus spores and the production of a toxin that causes foodborne illness. 
Some Food Safety Controls:
Anisakis* simplex: This Parasite can be killed by cooking or freezing. Freezing raw fish at -200C for 7 days or below -350C for 15 hours kills any parasites present. 
· Ensure Procurement of seafood is confirmed by an approved supplier as “parasite-free” and “sushi-grade” or “Adequately frozen”. 
· Some seafood products may not need to be frozen before sushi preparation and service, such as aquaculture-raised fish fed on formulated pelletized feed and tuna species such as Albacore, Yellowfin (Ahi), Blackfin, Bluefin and Bigeye. 
· Follow food safety best practices: 
o Ensure cross-contamination between raw and cooked ingredients is Avoided.
o Handwashing and Personal Hygiene are especially important after handling raw seafood products.
o Ensure to use Food Grade Plastic to wrap sushi-prep bamboo. Ensure plastic wrap is replaced every two hours, and each time a different species of raw fish is used.
o Ensure to Clean and sanitize all other food contact surfaces after sushi preparation before using those surfaces for different foods. 
Rice can be made safe by using the FATTOM** (Food, acidity, time, temperature, oxygen, & moisture) principles of acidity, time and temperature control to prevent the germination of spores and the growth of bacteria. 
· Start the process to acidify the rice when it is below pH 4.6 with vinegar as soon as cooking is completed. Mixing the rice thoroughly to ensure even acidification. Measure pH using pH indicator paper or a pH meter to confirm the proper acidification process. 
· Ensure that the acidified rice is cooled down rapidly using the two-stage cooling process and then refrigerate promptly. Ensure the cooled rice is used within 3 to 5 days. 
· All Sushi facilities must have the means to measure pH.
· Ensure Maintaining the following logs/records: Acidified rice pH, Cooling and Refrigeration temperatures, Purchasing and Receiving.
(Jude Michael Raj, HSE Specialist/Trainer)
(This story has been published under arrangement from Better Kitchen magazine)

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