Research Reveals Parasites In Sushi Have Increased In The Past 40 Years

The next time you’re in a seafood restaurant, and you ordered some sushi, we advise you to take a closer look at the raw fish for some worms because a new study reveals the abundance of “sushi parasites” have increased tenfold over the last 40 years.

Quick Parasite Worm Check

Made by researchers from the University of Washington, this new study found a dramatic increase in the amount of parasitic worms that can be easily transmitted to humans who consume both undercooked seafood and raw seafood. According to the researchers behind the study, this 283-fold increase in abundance as compared to the number it had back in the 1970s can have grave health consequences for both animals in the ocean and the people who eat them.

Known as a “herring worm” or Anisakis, countless papers made long ago already looked at how abundant these parasites seem to be during the specific time that the paper was made. However, this new study is the first one to ever combine all of the results that those previous papers made, as well as look at how these worms changed and advanced through time. As such, the findings of this new study were published just this Thursday in the scientific journal Global Change Biology.

"This study harnesses the power of many studies together to show a global picture of change over a nearly four-decade period. It's interesting because it shows how risks to both humans and marine mammals are changing over time. That's important to know from a public health standpoint, and for understanding what's going on with marine mammal populations that aren't thriving," Chelsea Wood, corresponding author and an assistant professor at the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, said.

Per Wood, it’s possible that these worms may have increased in numbers due to the fact that marine animals are now being protected, and that they reproduce inside these animals. However, it’s just a theory, albeit a plausible one.

"It's possible that the recovery of some marine mammal populations has allowed recovery of their Anisakis parasites," Wood said.

Sushi Adhering to the Japanese food guide, which consists of grains, vegetables, and fish, led to a reduction in total mortality risk in a new study. Pixabay, public domain