Study: The number of parasitic worms in sushi ingredients is growing

If you ever thought eating sushi would cause food poisoning, you may have eaten bugs in sushi, according tomedia. A new study suggests that the fish is now more common than ever — although chefs often pick up ingredients. The meta-study was conducted by scientists from the University of Washington who combined data from 1978 to 2015.

Study: The number of parasitic worms in sushi ingredients is growing

The studies looked at the number of parasitic worms called anisakis in sashimi or undercooked fish. The study found that the parasite had increased 283-fold in 37 years.

Although heteroma nematodes are often referred to as mackerel nematodes, they also appear in a wide variety of marine fish. When eaten by humans, live bugs usually only survive for a few days. During this time, however, they enter the intestinal wall, causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This condition is called heteromanestos, which usually disappear after the death of the parasite.

Fortunately, the researchers note that seafood processors and sushi chefs are very good at spotting and removing bugs from fish slices.

Unfortunately, however, things are not so easy for marine mammals, such as whales, seals and dolphins. When the insect is swallowed by these animals, it survives in the intestines for a period of time and then enters the ocean through the latter’s feces.

Ironically, the increase in the number of heteromas may have been caused by legislation to protect marine mammals, which provides more breeding opportunities for insects.

The study, led by Assistant Professor Chelsea Wood, was published this week in Global Change Biology.