Wait…Can Eating Sushi Give You Tapeworms?

A recent story out of California has us very...concerned.

January 24, 2018

By Neal McLennan

So this recent story out of Fresno has us more than a little concerned—and lot squeamish. It seems there was a local resident who just loved his salmon sushi so much that he ate the raw fish almost every single day. He probably had a wonderfully low cholesterol level. Unfortunately he also had a wonderfully large—as in 5 feet, 6 inch—tapeworm just chilling out in his intestines. Right up until it wasn’t and it decided to evacuate the premises while he was, er, “on the throne.”

Okay—compose yourself. Lets get back to some basic science here before we freak out. First, just because he ate a lot of sushi and he also had a ginourmous tapeworm doesn’t mean that the two are related, right? Well, as it turns out there is a pretty solid connection. Early last year the CDC issued a report warning that the Japanese Broad Tapeworm had been found in stocks of Wild Pacific Salmon caught in Alaska and that salmon caught anywhere along the Pacific Coast is likewise at risk. And Wild Pacific Salmon is one of the more common varieties served in our sushi restaurants?

So should you stop eating it? Given how much we eat the instances of tapeworm infection are very rare (in 2016 the Vancouver Sun reported that in the previous decade, there had been roughly two dozen cases of this type of tapeworm infection in all of B.C.). This is partly because the Province’s sushi regulations require fish be frozen to at least -20 degrees Celsius for at least a week to kill all possible bacteria. Problems arise when individuals or, in theory, unscrupulous restaurants, don’t follow these regulations or simply try to use regular fresh salmon as sushi. We now have 5 feet, 6 inches of reasons why doing either is bad idea.

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