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I Want to Eat Sushi, But I’m Worried About Sickness and Parasites. What Advice Can You Offer?

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

I understand your concerns about sickness and parasites when eating sushi. However, let's consider the statistics and facts to help alleviate those worries.

According to statistics, the chance of getting sick from eating sushi in a US restaurant is 1 in 2 million. While concerns are understandable, it's essential to put the risk into perspective. Like with any activity, risks are involved, but the chances of experiencing illness from sushi are meager.

For example, think about riding a motorcycle. Many individuals find it thrilling and enjoy the sense of freedom it provides. However, statistics show that motorcyclists represent only 3% of all registered vehicles but account for 14% of yearly traffic-related deaths. Motorcycle riding may involve A higher risk, so some may have better choices.

Similarly, skiing can be thrilling, but it carries a higher risk of injury, especially for individuals with slower reflexes or limited physical abilities. Recognizing our limitations and making informed decisions based on the risks involved is crucial.

Now, let's dive into the statistics regarding sushi. In 2017, there were approximately 3,733 reported cases of foodborne illnesses at sit-down restaurants in the US. Considering around 500,000 sit-down restaurants (including about 4,000 sushi restaurants), the incidence rate for foodborne illnesses related explicitly to sushi restaurants was 0.007 cases per restaurant in one year.

Let’s assume your sushi restaurant is open 312 days a year and serves around 100 customers daily. In that case, the chance of getting a foodborne illness from eating at your particular sushi restaurant for one evening is approximately 0.000022% or 1 in 2 million. Comparatively, the chance of dying in a vehicle crash in the US is 1 in 103.

Of course, everyone has their comfort zone and risk tolerance. Considering facts/statistics and personal feelings when making decisions is essential. If you can examine the facts, educate yourself, and gather enough information to feel comfortable eating sushi, then it may be an enjoyable experience for you.

If you want to try sushi without worrying about getting sick, I recommend educating yourself further. Learn about statistics, and talk to other sushi eaters, fishmongers, and sushi chefs to learn more about the safety of sushi consumption. Understanding the risks and taking necessary precautions can put your mind at ease.

In addition, sushi is not just raw fish, or fish for that matter. There are plenty of cooked fish sushi like crab and shrimp, as well as vegetarian and non-fish sushi using chicken and beef.

In the end, it's a personal decision. Sushi may or may not be for you, just like riding a motorcycle. Assess your comfort level, gather information, and make an informed choice that aligns with your preferences and concerns.


Kaz Matsune is Founder, Author and Speaker at Breakthrough Sushi. Based in San Francisco, Breakthrough Sushi offers in-person and online sushi-making classes and live sushi bar.

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