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Fecal Contamination of Sushi

The proportion of sushi that exceeds the national food standards guidelines for fecal bacteria levels.

August 28, 2007 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited


Image thanks to htomren


Remember that 24 hour flu you had last year? Well, there is no such thing as a 24 hour or 48 hour flu. There is no such thing as stomach flu. What you had is likely food poisoning. When someone gets hepatitis from eating a strawberry, the hepatitis didn't come from the strawberry, they don't even have little livers. As Dr MacDougal likes to point out, when is the last time we heard of someone getting dutch elm disease or a bad case of aphids? Food poisoning comes from animals. Specifically animal feces and that manure runoff can contaminate sprout seeds, spinach and other healthy plant foods. Still that's better than eating the manure directly. Animal products, particularly fish and poultry can be covered in fecal bacteria. It's so bad that while the federal government recommends that we wash our fruits and veggies, we're not even supposed to rinse meat and poultry for fear of the viral and bacterial splatter. Chicken carcasses are so covered in fecal matter that researchers at the University of Arizona found more fecal bacteria in the kitchen. On sponges, dish towels and sink drain than they found swabbing the toilet. Even after bleaching everything twice, in a meat eater's house it is safer to lick the rim of the toilet seat than the kitchen counter top because people aren't preparing chickens in their toilets. Frankly, you know that chicken juice isn't juice, it's raw fecal soup. And in terms of fish hygiene  researchers swabbed sushi for fecal bacteria. The national food standards guidelines for maximum fecal bacteria on ready to eat food items is 30,000. This is what they found. They also swabbed vegetarian sushi, avocado and cucumber rolls and found zero fecal bacteria. Unlike salmon and tuna, avocado and cucumbers don't have rectums.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out theother videos on sushi. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

Please be sure to check out my associated blog post, Why is it Legal to Sell Unsafe Meat?

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on sushi. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Vetstud13

    So chicken juice = raw fecal soup. And when you put it that way…

  • EccoLa

    Dr. Greger: I’m a vegan but I feed my cats naturally (ie not the horrific commercial pet foods.) That means I am handling human-grade raw quail daily that I buy at Ranch 99. And I DO wash the quail or else my kitties could get blood on the floor. (It’s a job to make them eat the birds on the mats I lay down for them. They respond to real food like real animals and want to drag their prey off to a quiet corner. I wash my hands whenever I handle the raw quail and spray the sink and counter (and floor as necessary) with pure white vinegar. Is this enough? I can’t NOT handle raw meats if I am going to have kitties because the ingredients of canned commercial pet foods are toxic. Any recommendations?

  • tavit

    but how to remove those things from my kitchen? Is alcohol enough?

  • Thrivalista

    So…I’ll be checking out in the grocery store *only* via the self-service registers from now on, where I can bring my own bags and make sure the foods don’t actually touch the register or those gross conveyor belts.

    Maybe also bring a clean plastic bag to lay on the scale when the produce is sold by weight rather than count…


  • TheLance3185 .

    One word: Ewwww!!!