The Pink Slime of the Sea
Just when we were beginning to regain our appetites from the “pink slime” debacle of last month comes news that the beloved supermarket (and bottom dollar sushi bar) option “spicy tuna” is potentially compromised with salmonella. Seems the FDA claimed 116 salmonella-related illnesses have been reported, including 12 people who have been hospitalized after consuming a yellow tail sushi product called “tuna scrape” sold at restaurants and grocery stores. No deaths have been reported. There is a voluntary recall in effect of 58,828 pounds of frozen raw yellow fin tuna labeled as Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA, which is basically a frozen tuna goo scraped off of the carcass of the fish after most of the good stuff has been removed. In essence, this stuff is the “pink slime” of the sea.
Now one needs to practice caution whenever consuming any sort of raw seafood, as various pathogens seem to cluster in the flesh of uncooked seafood (that is why you tend to cook these things). Still, salmonella scares aside, the inadvertent reveal of “tuna scrape” this week was unnerving to many. This scraped product, according to a FDA recall notice, is tuna backmeat, which is specifically scraped off from the bones, and looks like a ground product. No word on what it is mixed with to make it bright pink, pliant, or spicy for that matter, but this tuna hamburger-like mixture is sure to turn off a lot of hungry sushi lovers.
When NPR got word of this story, they called up Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, who expressed concern that possibly the practice of grinding the fish creates the potential for more problems. This is because contamination from one tuna carcass can be spread through an entire batch.
To be fair “tuna scrape” is neither as objectionable or questionable a product as “pink slime.” But unlike the fetid beef product, “tuna scrape” is the one slapped with a recall.
Would you; could you, with a spicy tuna roll? Does any of this ruin your appetite? Or is raw fish just a risky proposal to begin with?