Beware of “Tuna Scrape,” the Pink Slime in Sushi
On the heels of the outcry over pink slime (processed beef trimmings) masquerading as ground beef, some are raising concerns about “tuna scrape” as its fish equivalent. Recently, there’s been a salmonella outbreak among those who eat sushi. This is not a surprise as eating the raw seafood that sushi often contains does pose more risks than eating cooked seafood.
But the salmonella outbreak has been traced to those eating sushi containing a product called Nakaochi Scrape, which supermarkets and restaurants purchased in frozen form. After 116 people in 20 states and the District of Columbia became ill, distributors have recalled 58,828 pounds of “tuna scrape” and the FDA has issued a recall notice in which “tuna scrape” is described thus:
“tuna backmeat, which is specifically scraped off from the bones, and looks like a ground product.”
That is, “tuna scrape” is indeed the scrapings of tuna, such that it looks like what might be called “fish slime.”
Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, tells NPR that he has concerns about eating raw “tuna scrape” as “raw food of animal origin should be cooked before it’s eaten.” He also notes that, due to the fish being ground up, there are greater chances for contamination and that, while the “tuna scrape” has been frozen, it is not necessarily free of germs:
Freezing is good at killing parasites, Doyle says, but bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella often snooze through a freezing, emerging from their slumber just as dangerous as before. Evidently the Salmonella bareilly that have sickened the people in this current outbreak just love chilling.
In addition, a consumer wouldn’t know the conditions under which the “tuna scrape” was defrosted prior to being used in making sushi.
Given that this ground-up fish product is the “no. 1 culprit in outbreaks caused by imported food” – and that three-quarters of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported — it might be well to “lay off the spicy tuna rolls” and stick to sushi with cooked ingredients, or maybe seafood-less sushi, period.
Moreover, the recall of “tuna scrape” is a wake-up call to take care when buying and eating sushi which may be a bit too “fishy” to eat.
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