Tuna Scrape Slime Scare Warnings

Have you noticed how popular carry our sushi has become? It’s everywhere; Jewel Osco, Dominicks, even some Walgreens now have Sushi!

No sooner did the furor over lean, finely textured beef (a.k.a. “pink
slime”) die down than we have another one over sushi tuna. 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.

Scrape refers to the meat left on fish skeletons after the filets are
cut off. This is perfectly good fish, but difficult to get at. I once
visited an Alaskan salmon packing plant and asked what happened to the
delicious looking meat between the bones. The answer: pet food. (Lucky

But tuna is too valuable to leave behind, and companies in India use
special devices to scoop out the meat, combine it with scrapings from
many other fish, chop the mixture, freeze it in blocks, and ship it to
importers in the United States. Unlike “pink slime,” tuna scrape is not
treated with ammonia or anything else to kill harmful bacteria.

Nevertheless, it is supposed to be safe. The FDA requires producers
of imported foods to follow established safety plans. Although the
United States imports about 80 percent of seafood sold domestically, the
FDA only inspects 1 or 2

This means we have to rely on the diligence of international food
producers in following safe-handling procedures. But even well-intentioned
producers can make safety errors, especially when dealing with high-risk



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