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Is there anything more ridiculous than SPAM sushi?

spam sushi

Recently we’ve posted a couple articles about some crazy trends in the sushi world, including rainbow sushi and sushi burgers. After hearing some of the reactions to these bizarre creations we couldn’t resist bringing you the scoop on the newest aberration to enter the sushi world, brought to you by the United States of America. The Minnesota state fair is taking it one step further towards the westernization of sushi with a dish sure to make sushi purists feel sick to their stomach’s – spam sushi.

From the official website (Check it out to see some of the really delicious options they have), the description could not be more appealing: Grilled SPAM®, sushi rice, fried egg and wasabi rolled in nori (dried seaweed).”

Now I’m pretty open to trying new things in the sushi world, but I draw the line somewhere WAY before wrapping up a piece of grilled spam and fried eggs in nori. To anyone brave enough to try this creation, we salute you!

Voluntary agreement by major companies will protect Arctic Waters

Corporate Responsiblity Arctic Fishing

McDonald’s, Tesco, Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer, Asda, Morrisons, Youns Seafood, Birds Eye, Espersen, Karat, and Fiskebat are major players in the cod industry. They are responsible for supplying and purchasing huge volumes of the species, and their business practices have an enormous effect on whether or not the species and its habitats will be protected or over-exploited. Fishing fleets are expanding territories to obtain the most economical catch as possible, putting new areas at risk.

A key area of Arctic waters between Greenland, Russia and Norway is the great benefactor of the agreement which will prevent expansion into the area. These waters have not yet undergone significant fishing and are currently undergoing a research effort to learn how to properly exploit the resources of the waters without causing undue harm to the environment and the cod within its boundaries. It isn’t just cod that is going to benefit from the agreement. Bottom trawlers, used to fish cod, can cause damage to other species, and with the lack of research into the area the true cost of these fishing methods is not fully understood in the region.

While you may not be familiar with all of the signatories, this is good progress for protecting cod populations. Fiskebat, for instance, represents all registered fishing vessels in Norway. Corporate responsibility paired with informed consumption is a powerful force towards exploiting the bounties of the sea responsibly.

How can you do your part? Continue making informed choices. The more that consumers show their preference for certified seafood, the more the market will respond.

Sushiburger – the newest sushi craze to hit the internet!

Sushi burger

Want a burger without breaking the diet? Sushi burger has your back! Everyone knows sushi is a low calorie option compared to fast food, and sushi burgers are the latest trend to blow up insta and fb, with restaurants competing to make the best sushi burger around. While sushi burgers are just now seeing massive popularity thanks to the internet, some commentators say they have been around for years.

A photo posted by Thrillist (@thrillist) on

I’ve never seen them before. Have any of our readers tried a sushi burger? Would love to hear what you think of them. Check out how it’s made in the video below.

10/10 would DEVOUR! Freshest #sushiburger I've ever seen! 📽: @thenaughtyfork from 📍: @postmates

A video posted by foodbeast (@foodbeast) on

All I know is I want to try it! If anywhere near me offered a sushi burger, I know it would be it’s most popular dish – at least until the internet craze dies down. This is one of the most fun sushi ideas we’ve seen! Of course, purists are going to turn their nose at the sushi burger, but if you don’t mind something silly and fun it could be quite delicious. Sometimes I want a burger but don’t want to feel the self-loathing and uncomfortable fullness after I polish off a massive meal…

A photo posted by Mezcla (@mezcla_bari) on

If I am craving sushi, I think I’ll go for something a little more traditional. But if I wanted to try something new, hell yeah I’d chow down on a sushiburger. If you liked looking at sushi burgers, you’re going to love checking out Rainbow Sushi!

Rainbow sushi is dazzling the internet

rainbow sushiYou may have ordered a rainbow roll before at a restaurant. The newest trend in sushi, however, is not rolls with a selection of seafood to give the roll an appealing colour, but something altogether different – the use of natural ingredients to bring colour to the rice itself! While the taste shouldn’t be much different (we hope) than regular sushi, you have to admit that the new trend is aesthetically beautiful.

Sushi is as much art as it is food, and seeing new ways of presenting my favourite dishes are always fun, even if in this case it’s a little wild!

A photo posted by Kelly Lamug (@kellylamug) on

Some crafty creators of rainbow sushi have ditched food colouring altogether to create all-natural hues. A popular way to make a brilliant yellow, for example, is the use of tumeric. Tumeric is part of the ginger family, and we all know that sushi is often served with ginger slices. I’m not so certain how adding it to the rolls itself would affect the taste! I think I’d prefer my ginger on the side…

A photo posted by @earthfawn on

Rainbow sushi might be nice to look at, but if you ask me, I’ll stick to plain rice. Maybe I’m just not adventurous enough! Would you be willing to try rainbow sushi?

Sustainability in the Supplement industry – Norwegian San Omega achieves FoS Certification

San Omega receives

It’s easy to tell where your seafood comes from. If you buy it fresh, you can ask your fishmonger or read the packaging. If you buy it preserved, the label will tell you where it was caught.

Fish oil supplements are a little bit trickier. When you buy fish oil in liquid or capsule form, you might scratch your head at the label. Even if you go to the manufacturers websites, it can be difficult to know where the seafood is sourced and how it was caught. I slogged my way though multiple different omega 3 fish oil websites only to find rather vague information on where exactly the fish oil came from. The supplement industry has always been a bit like the “wild west” in the fitness industry, and that same attitude seems to prevalent among fish oil vendors as well. So how can you make ethical choices when it comes to your omega 3 supplements? One way you can ensure you are buying sustainable products is to purchase from companies who have attained certification.

Friend of the Sea (FoS) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to conserving marine habitats and to educating consumers towards ethical seafood choices. Recently, San Omega, a Norwegian oil company which uses wild caught sardines, mackerels, and anchovies has recently achieved FoS status for their line of fish oils. This means that their fisheries are strictly managed to sustainability criteria, source only from stocks which have not been over exploited, and are limited in the fishing methods that they use. Currently, San Omega sourcing is both certified under FoS and IFFO (The Marine Ingredients Organization).

At Sushifaq, we want to say bravo to San Omega for showing how supplement companies can source ingredients in an ethical, sustainable way. It is so critical to the conservation of ocean life for consumers to be able to make informed, ethical choices, and proper certification in the supplement and omega three oil business is essential to that process.

Is sushi perfect for a first date?

Sushi - The Perfect First dateWe’ve always known sushi is the perfect first date, and now it’s scientifically proven. Every year, Match.com releases its Singles in America study, the most comprehensive national study of American singles that exists. The data is put together by biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, the premier anthropologist on love and dating. The study found that taking your date out for sushi didn’t just help make for a great first date, it also improved the chance of a second date by 170%!

What makes sushi such a perfect first date? Here’s our take on why sushi is scientifically the best choice.

A first date is all about getting to know someone, and sushi is perfect for it. It’s fun, light, and easy to share. Going out for sushi is the polar opposite of a stuffy French restaurant. Instead of ending the meal feeling full and lethargic, you feel energetic and vibrant from a healthy meal. You can practice using chopsticks, laugh when a roll doesn’t quite make it to your mouth, and enjoy a varied meal with plenty of choices. It’s also possible that barbecue eel was ordered – which is known in Japan for its aphrodisiac qualities!

Sushi is a little different than safer, more boring alternatives. The study found that 75% of respondents preferred simple American food for a first date. That might be one of the keys to understanding why sushi improved the odds of a second date by 170% – you either love sushi, or the idea of eating raw fish creeps you out. It’s likely that when discussing options for a date, sushi is either a solid yes or an avoid at all costs meal. I’ve never met a single person (pun intended) that just “sort of liked” sushi. If you’re a sushi lover, It’s common sense that going on a date for something you love is going to leave a good taste in your mouth!

So, what’s the take-away? If you want to lock down that second date, make sure sushi is on the menu.

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Is there carbon monoxide in your sushi? US retailers continue to use a shocking practice banned internationally

Tuna carbon monoxideI recently read an article in the news which said that sushi grade tuna might be being treated with carbon monoxide in order to give it a bright, fresh red color. I instantly did a quick search online, and the first information on the US government Center for Disease Control and Prevention said this: “Carbon Monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you”.

Is it possible that sushi vendors are using a deadly substance in order to appeal to the eyes of consumers? I could not believe it, so I researched it further.

Apparently, carbon monoxide prevents oxidation in tuna. That means that instead of going brown, fish stays bright red and fresh looking. While carbon monoxide poisoning in large amounts can and does kill hundreds every year, the FDA has ruled that treating fish and meat with the preservative is “GRAS”, or “Generally Recognized as Safe”.

Why are seafood vendors using carbon monoxide? When tuna is flash frozen, not all of the microbes are killed. The process is simply not cold enough. Because of this, tuna will go brown quite quickly. Seafood dealers found that they could preserve the cherry red coloring of the fish, making it more appealing to consumers. When your competitors are able to offer older tuna which looks as if it was just hauled out of the ocean, it becomes difficult to compete unless you join standard industry practices of hiding signs of decay with preservatives.

Even though it has been considered safe by the FDA, there are restrictions. Tuna that has been treated with the chemical additive of carbon monoxide must have the information clearly stated on its label. It cannot be marketed or branded as fresh frozen, because carbon monoxide is a preservative.

But can you trust the labels? While the FDA has required tuna vendors to clearly indicate the existence of carbon monoxide as a preservative, they have allowed at least two different meat vendors to use the exact same process – without labeling their product in any way. If the meat industry can get away with selling carbon monoxide treated products, I would not be surprised if things could change for seafood.

While carbon monoxide as a preservative is sanctioned by the US government, international response is different. In 2003 the European Union unilaterally banned the use of carbon monoxide in both meat and seafood. Their reasoning? The bright red, fresh looking coloring that carbon monoxide gives can hide harmful growth of bacteria. China, which is not known for consumer protections has also banned the use of carbon monoxide in food products. It should also come as no surprise that Japan, the sushi capital of the world, does not allow the practice.

When you see a beautiful, bright red packaged tuna, check the ingredients. If tuna has partially decomposed, adding tasteless carbon monoxide smoke can hide the fact that the fish is no longer fresh. If you are lucky, it will only be the taste that is ruined. Sushi, in its essence, depends on simplicity. If the main ingredient that the sushi roll revolves around looks beautiful but tastes fishy, the experience suffers.

Personally, I am going to be reading labels carefully. When I eat sushi, I want to feel healthy and revitalized. Carbon monoxide is just not an ingredient I am comfortable putting in my body, even if the FDA rules it as “generally considered safe”.

When you eat sushi, you are taking a slight risk. The simple fact that you are eating raw food carries with it a higher risk because there is no cooking process to kill harmful bacteria. It is incredibly important that you use good quality, fresh ingredients. My advice? When it comes to sushi, skip the monoxide. Consumers should be allowed to pick their food using their eyes without having to worry that signs of old, decaying fish have been hiding with chemical preservatives.

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Sushi and Salmonella – Do you need to be worried?

slicing sushiWhen we think of sushi, we think of a healthy and delicious meal. We often forget that while eating sushi is in general safe, there is always an elevated risk to consuming a raw product. Even with government regulations, sometimes bacteria and tainted fish can enter the country, and only cooking food completely can render it safe. In March 2012, 425 people were infected with Salmonella in the US, the vast majority from consuming spicy tuna rolls. The culprit was a shipment of frozen raw yellowfin from India. The FDA concluded that it was likely that the Salmonella Bareilly was caused by inadequate sanitary controls after harvest, during processing and packaging. The sushi was distributed mainly in 4 grocery stores.

Salmonella affects over a million Americans every year, with an estimated 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths. Illnesses can last 4 to 7 days and in severe cases demand hospitalization. A recent case of Salmonella linked with sushi affected an estimated 62 people in 11 states, linked to raw fish imported through the Osamu Corporation from Indonesia. Once again, raw tuna was the culprit, sending 11 people to the hospital with severe symptoms. The bulk of the sushi was bought at workplace cafeterias and grocery stores.

Does this mean that grocery store sushi is less safe than in a restaurant? While 2 incidents is perhaps not enough to point the finger at groceries stores, cafeterias, and cheaper sushi options, I would advise caution with buying sushi that has been sitting out in the open. When you are putting yourself at risk, you need to be able to trust the restaurant or store that you are buying sushi from.

Can freezing the fish make it safe? One method used to make sushi safer is the process of deep freezing. New York has implemented rules requiring raw fish to be frozen in order to kill parasites. In fact, fish is often flash frozen in freezers directly on the vessels which catch them for transportation and to reduce parasites such as worms which can live in tuna and be harmful to humans. While deep freezing is useful against parasites, it can only slow, not stop, bacteria like salmonella. Only the cooking process can eliminate salmonella and other food born illnesses.

What is the bottom line? There are always going to be risks associated with eating raw food. If you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, you should not consider eating sushi or sashimi. If you’re a healthy adult who does not have other risk factors, then you need to make the choice for yourself. One strategy for reducing risk is to use the FDA’s website at http://www.fda.gov/ to keep yourself appraised of any recent outbreaks of salmonella poisoning and other illnesses associated with eating sushi. And while I can’t tell you what to do – make sure you trust where you are getting your sushi from.

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Have we been eating sushi incorrectly all along?

Ka-Me rice crackers sushi 
It would appear, according to Ka-Me brand crackers, that we have been eating our maki sushi wrong this whole time!

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WWF Living Planet Report offers dire news for sushi lovers

bluefin tunaThe World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) publishes the Living Planet Report every two years. A special edition was published in 2015 delves into the deeper implications of the 2014 report on our world’s oceans, and with it comes alarming news for sushi lovers worldwide.

While in the last 40 years the human population has risen 75% from 4 billion to 7 billion, the world’s mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish populations have fallen by half. Some species have fared worse than the average decline. The report shows an index of 17 species of mackerel and tuna plummeting 74% between 1970 and 2010.

Fishery collapses can be drastic and sudden. Canadians will remember the collapse of the cod fisheries of the Atlantic, where a combination of greed and lack of foresight caused a catastrophic drop in the largest cod fishery of the world, reducing the biomass of the species to 1% of its former levels in the early 1990s. Even now over a decade later, stocks have not recovered. The world depends on fish as a source of food and a source of income, but this dependence has put a toll on species that are struggling to stay alive as demand grows.

There is a huge focus worldwide on populations of bluefin and yellowfin tuna, along with other premium sushi fish, but there needs to be an awareness of the base of the food chain. Feed conversion ratios for large fish such as tuna are generally between 15-20:1, meaning that for every kilogram of tuna in the grocery store, there was a required 15 to 20 kilograms of smaller fish – including mackerel. This is one of the reasons that it is difficult to farm tuna. The species, as an apex predator, require a huge amount of food to sustain their speed and size. If mackerel populations lose more of their biomass, the impact on apex predators and the entire ocean food chain will be felt.

The World Wide Fund for Nature is obviously a pro-conservation and pro-nature group. While the decline of 74% in tuna and mackerel populations may seem drastic, it is important to note that the majority of the decline occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. While there has been slight decline since, populations have not been continuing the steep plummeting of past decades. Unfortunately, there have been no signs of overall recovery, but ocean conservation groups such as the Marine Conservation Society and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch still list most species of mackerel as “fish to eat” and “best choices”. Mackerel is however missing from the Marine Stewardship Council’s list of fish to eat. When mackerel can experience such a drop and still be considered a good choice to eat compared to other options, I personally start to get worried at how bleak the big picture is.

As stocks of fish drop, competition for dwindling supplies intensify. China, the nation with the largest fishing fleet in the world, has been increasing their fishing fleet, especially for tuna. Radio Australia reported in 2003 that Chinese fleets were receiving 4.1 Billion dollars in subsidies for fishing tuna, with a 5 year plan to increase the fleet of 1300 by 300 as of 2015.

Nations continue to fish against illegal fishing in their waters. Indonesia blew up 41 foreign fishing boats in May of 2015, including risking an international incident by exploding a Chinese fishing boat seized in 2009. There have also been allegations of under-reporting of international catch by China. The Fish and Fisheries report in 2014 estimates that the true catch was an estimated 4.6 million tonnes per year, whereas China declared only 386,000 tonnes. This was facilitated by increased catch in African waters, where it is more difficult to monitor and regulate fisheries. For further information, this article can be found at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/faf.12032/epdf (PDF document).

The barriers to sustainable fishing are huge. Fisheries form the livelihood of over 10% of the world, and restricting fishing can lead to thousands of people forced into unemployment without marketable skills outside of their industry. Increased regulation leads to increases in prices, and as prices rise the reward for illegal and unreported fishing increase as well. The reality of the global oceans means that multiple countries compete for the same resources, and if any one country voluntarily reduces their fishing, their economies suffer while other countries profit. While international agreements are in place to support sustainable fishing, they have been unable to bring back the populations of fish to the levels seen before industrialized fishing and trawling. Even more depressing, it is not only overfishing that is the cause of the decline. Ocean acidification, rising sea temperatures and population are all putting our oceans at risk. If populations are going to return to healthy levels, a concrete, global effort to protect our ocean’s will be required.

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