One of my great laments about Manhattan (Kansas) has been the lack of sushi. In the past few years, however, sushi has appeared on campus, in grocery stores and a Japanese restaurant is expected to open in Aggieville. Today during our regular pilgrimage to a Dillon’s grocery store (owned by Kroger), the "Sushi" sign was prominently displayed out front. While thinking to myself, "that might make a nice lunch today,"once inside the store I changed my mind. I snapped this picture (right) of an unattended rice container and decided not to buy sushi there because of the potential risk.
While most people presume that the greatest risk for foodborne illness in sushi comes from the raw fish, I’ve learned from living with Doug that rice is too often the culprit. When held at improper temperatures or temperature abused, Bacillus cereus, a soil dwelling bacterium, can germinate in the rice and create toxins. Although only responsible for 2-5% of foodborne illness, B. cereus can result in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Diarrhea onset usually occurs between 8 and 16 hours after consumption but nausea and vomiting can occur from 1 to 5 hours after consumption. This is one of the few foodborne illnesses with symptom onset soon after consumption.
Last year when one of my students told me he got sick from eating sushi on campus, he blamed himself for eating raw fish. He was rather surprised when I told him the rice was more likely to blame.