If You Like Sushi, Stick with Expensive, Restaurant Fare - The UltimateFatBurner Blog

If You Like Sushi, Stick with Expensive, Restaurant Fare

Admittedly, I don’t care for sushi. I don’t explicitly hate it, either, but for me, there’s just no “there,” there. The only time I ever eat it, is when I happen to be dining out with a sushi-lover, who’s just dying to take me to his/her favorite restaurant. While I’d much rather eat Italian, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian etc., I inwardly shrug and go along with it. I usually end up having a good time anyway, despite my indifference to the food – good company and a few warm sakes make up for the blaah meal.

This means my sushi consumption has been confined to higher-end, specialty restaurants – I’ve never, never been tempted by the displays of pre-made sushi at the supermarket. And according to this post about “tuna scrape” by Dr. Marion Nestle – that’s probably a good thing.

On April 13, the Food and Drug Administration said Moon Marine USA, an importing company based in Cupertino, was voluntarily recalling 30 tons of frozen raw ground yellowfin tuna, packaged as Nakaochi scrape.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigations linked consumption of Nakaochi scrape sushi to about 250 diagnosed cases and an estimated 6,000 or so undiagnosed cases of illness caused by two rare strains of salmonella. Among the victims who were interviewed, more than 80 percent said they ate spicy tuna sushi rolls purchased in grocery stores or restaurants.

Tuna scrape is used in supermarket-grade sushi, not the fancy stuff. Sushi used to be – and still is, in places – an art form requiring exceptional skills…

But in America, sushi has gone mainstream. You can find prepackaged sushi rolls at practically any supermarket or convenience store, at a cost equivalent to hamburger.

Cheap sushi is made with cheap ingredients – hence, Nakaochi scrape – by chefs with far less training. A typical certification program for sushi chefs in this country can be completed in two or three months. Some offer certification online.

Dr. Nestle’s warning seems intuitive to me – even if I were a sushi-lover, I’d think twice before eating cheap sushi w/raw tuna prepared by unknown hands (even if it wasn’t scraped off the bones). But given the prevalence of supermarket sushi, it’s obviously not so intuitive to others (the stuff is ubiquitous in the stores I frequent – someone must be buying it). So word to the wise: unless the standards tighten up, supermarket sushi should probably be avoided, unless you’re very sure about the source.

Author: elissa

Elissa is a former research associate with the University of California at Davis, and the author/co-author of over a dozen articles published in scientific journals. Currently a freelance writer and researcher, Elissa brings her multidisciplinary education and training to her writing on nutrition and supplements.


  1. Love sushi, but the grocery store stuff is mostly crap. No point in spending $5-10 on what amounts to a big pile of white rice with a tiny bit of bait quality fish. Much better to spend on the good stuff… or if at the supermarket, get a can or 2 of real alaska salmon, and binge on omega & protein! Many thanks to Eliysa for the salmon tip!

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  2. I’m like you Elissa. I’ve only had sushi a couple times and didn’t really care for it. It seems to have no flavor. I guess it’s just me.

    So that means there’s no chance I’ll be getting the supermarket kind. Matter of fact, I didn’t even know the supermarket sold it. lol

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    • I’ve seen it at Fred Meyer, Trader Joe’s and Safeway – haven’t looked for it at some of the local places I also occasionally shop at (Rosauer’s, Trading Co., Huckleberry’s) but I wouldn’t be surprised to find it.

      Some people love it – Eric is certainly one, and my husband is another. And Will (Brink) is a fanatic. To each their own, I guess… as long as it’s safe to eat! Certainly tuna scrape is a dicey proposition. As a food science type, I “get” the purpose of tuna scrape – but the risk of microbial contamination is too high for the stuff to be eaten raw.

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  3. Sushi is mostly white rice, and not worth the expense, in my opinion. Sashimi (just the raw fish), on the other hand, can be excellent and very tasty, if you buy it at a really good restaurant or vendor that uses prime-grade fresh fish. Of course, it ain’t cheap.

    I noted last month that the importer that had to recall the tainted product is not far from my house, yet all of the early reported cases of illness were east of California. Either the supermarkets buying from the company thought that Californians have a low tolerance for “fish scrape” and thus didn’t distribute that sushi out here, or Californians have been eating the stuff for so long that they are immune to salmonella by now. 😉

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