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The Pink Slime of the Sea

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?

Read more: Blogs, Eating for Health, Following Food, Food, Raw, , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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8:10AM PST on Feb 7, 2013

Now human beings are eating what used to be considered cat food and slapping a fancy label on it.

1:40AM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

I love fish and I love sushi, but I don't eat raw fish, so normally go vegetarian.

Now rice has a bad rap as that is also carrying impurities. There's nothing natural in the soil anymore after years of adding chemicals by the ton. I think these food scares will continue until consumers demand better nutrition.

4:02PM PDT on Oct 4, 2012


2:44PM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

Funny but the only fish I have liked is the sushi maguro. and very rarely do I eat that. I'm actually more of a fan of the wasabi and ginger.

11:06AM PDT on Oct 3, 2012


9:04AM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

Oh my!

7:46AM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

Thank you

6:49AM PDT on Oct 3, 2012


5:35AM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

Thanks,but no thanks.

7:30PM PDT on Oct 2, 2012

Yuck!! I NEVER eat fish so I would never be eating raw fish. I don't see how anyone can. But everyone has different tastes, you know? So I don't care what anyone else eats. I just know that I don't. Thx for the post.

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