Anisakis, a fish parasite. No.1 food poisoning in Japan.


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Do you like sashimi or Sushi? If you eat sashimi, you should know about parasites. Especially chefs who process fish!!!!!

Sashimi, Sushi. Recently, many raw fish are being eaten overseas as well. However, without proper knowledge, there is a risk of food poisoning. In this article, I would like to introduce "anisakiasis", a food poisoning that seems quite risky to me as a chef in Japan, and, to my surprise, "Anisakis light", which makes such anisakis parasites totally visible.

⚠️This article includes photos of fish being orocessed and parasitic anisakis. If you are not comfortable with such things, please be warned.⚠️

What is Anisakis?

Anisakis is a type of parasite that lives in fish and looks like a white worm about 15 mm long. In Japan, the number of cases of poisoning by anisakis seems to be increasing recently and has been reported in the news. Although the parasite cannot normally live in the human body, it can infect humens when fish parasitized by Anisakis are consumed raw. (Anisakiasis)
Anisakiasis can cause severe abdominal pain, nausea, and in severe cases, intestinal obstruction. (In rare cases, some people have no symptoms, but in painful cases, there are rumors that it was more painful than childbirth😱)

Anisakis in the guts of fish

⚠️Freshly caught fish is not safe!!! In fact, freshly caught wild fish are often crawling with them, so be careful.

Fish that can often see Anisakis

Are you thinking " I can't eat sashimi or sushi anymore!!!" ?? Of course, all fish are susceptible to Anisakis parasites, but here are some types of fish that you should be especially careful about.

  • Mackerel
  • Horse mackerel
  • Pike
  • Sardine
  • Bonito
  • Salmon
  • Squid
  • Atka mackerel
  • Cod
  • Trout

💡I was working at an izakaya in Japan. I was processing about 100 squid roast, and most of them were full of anisakis. Fortunately, the squid was not for raw consumption, so it was safe to say that there were many parasites not only in the internal organs but also in the meat, and I could not eat squid for a while.

How to prevent Anisakiasis?

Anisakiasis is an infection caused by eating live anisakis. Let's see how we can prevent it together!

💡Japan has the highest incidence of food poisoning by anisakis in the world. However, this does not mean that foreign countries are safe. Nevertheless, it is a fact that Japan has the highest number of cases. I hope that you will be careful when you travel to Japan.

💡Skilled Japanese chefs can handle fish quickly with excellent technique and can remove anisakis almost completely visually, paying close attention when cutting sashimi.

Soaking in vinegar does not work

Battera : marinated in vinegar mackerel sushi

In fact, many people have the misconception that anisakis is killed by vinegar and sake. I was surprised in the past when a senior cook told me, "If you marinate the fish in vinegar for about 3 hours, it will be fine". That's a horrible misconception!!! Having the correct knowledge is a necessity for culinary worker. Below are some examples of common misconceptions. Read through them.

✖ No problem if you marinate it in vinegar.
✖ No problem if you wash it with alcohol.
✖ No problem to be fresh just caught.
✖ No problem if you remove the internal organs right away.(not perfect)
✖ No problem if you remove it visually.(not perfect)

⚠️These are all incorrect & not perfect, especially when you eat the fish you catch!!!

Heating and freezing is safe

So how can it be prevented?? The safest way is to heat or freeze the fish. Heating the fish at 140℉(60℃) or higher for at least 1 minute or freezing it at -4℉(-20℃) or lower for at least 24 hours will completely kill Anisakis, so if the fish has been so treated, you can eat it with peace of mind.

A professional chef can carefully and visually remove them when handring and cooking to greatly reduce the risk. (Sashimi is thinly sliced and visually checked, for example.) However, if the anisakis are deep in the meat, it may not be possible to find them, so watch carefully before eating.

⚠️How to completely kill it.⚠️
  • Heating : 140℉(60℃) or higher for at least 1 minute
  • Freezing : -4℉(-20℃) or lower for at least 24 hours

Highlight!! Anisakislight is amazing!!!

Image:Amazon canada

Anisakis is a parasite of some fish. Wouldn't you like to see it with your own eyes? (I wonder if there are any challengers out there....) So, I actually want one!!!!! I would like to introduce a black light that illuminates anisakis "Anisakis Light"!!! (I will definitely buy it on my next temporary return trip!!!)

The Anisakis Light is a black light with 365nm~395nm ultraviolet light. When you shine this light on the flesh of fish that may have anisakis, the anisakis, which are difficult to see with the eye, appear to "glow"!!!

Image :

Wow!!!!! There they are!!! You can't see anisakis just by looking at it with your eyes because it's so transparent. But if it glows like a luminous insect like this, it's easy to find it!! Even if you know it's safe to grill, you still want to remove it before eating if at all possible. (it's a matter of feeling💦) Anisakiasis is on the increase year by year not only in Japan but also in overseas countries, so let's prevent it from happening with this light!!! 

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