‘Sushi parasites’ have increased 283-fold in past 40 years

I don’t eat sushi.

The combination of rice and raw fish sets off way too many risk buttons for me.

There was this one time, about eight years ago, I went to Dubai and Abu  Dhabi, to evaluate a graduate program and hang out at Dubai’s food safety conference.

A microbiologist from the University of New South Wales was also enlisted (and knew more about this stuff than I did).

One night, our hosts took us to dinner featuring a buffet overflowing with raw seafood.

He said, “Don’t.”

You don’t want to know the microbiological profile of that raw seafood, or something like that.

The University of Washington says, the next time you eat sashimi, nigiri or other forms of raw fish, consider doing a quick check for worms.

A new study led by the University of Washington finds dramatic increases in the abundance of a worm that can be transmitted to humans who eat raw or undercooked seafood. Its 283-fold increase in abundance since the 1970s could have implications for the health of humans and marine mammals, which both can inadvertently eat the worm.

Thousands of papers have looked at the abundance of this parasitic worm, known as Anisakis or “herring worm,” in particular places and at particular times. But this is the first study to combine the results of those papers to investigate how the global abundance of these worms has changed through time. The findings were published March 19 in the 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,” said corresponding author Chelsea Wood, an assistant professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “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.”

Despite their name, herring worms can be found in a variety of marine fish and squid species. When people eat live herring worms, the parasite can invade the intestinal wall and cause symptoms that mimic those of food poisoning, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In most cases, the worm dies after a few days and the symptoms disappear. This disease, called anisakiasis or anisakidosis, is rarely diagnosed because most people assume they merely suffered a bad case of food poisoning, Wood explained.

After the worms hatch in the ocean, they first infect small crustaceans, such as bottom-dwelling shrimp or copepods. When small fish eat the infected crustaceans, the worms then transfer to their bodies, and this continues as larger fish eat smaller infected fish.

Humans and marine mammals become infected when they eat a fish that contains worms. The worms can’t reproduce or live for more than a few days in a human’s intestine, but they can persist and reproduce in marine mammals.

Lizards and worms should not be on the school lunch menu in India, or elsewhere

Rice and lentils was the free lunch on Aug. 22 at the Government Model Senior Secondary school in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.

sprouted-lentilsTeachers took a look at the meal.

They found worms.

Lunch was not served. Seven hundred students reportedly went home hungry after their school day.

India’s free school lunch program is the largest in the world. The program was started in the mid-1990s with two goals: to fight chronic hunger and child malnutrition and to increase school enrollment and attendance.

Would you like worms with that chicken? Closure notice issued to KFC outlet in India

The Hindu reports food safety officials issued a closure notice to a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) at Pulimood, India, following a complaint about live worms inside the chicken served to a family via a toll-free line.

“A family which had come to eat at the KFC outlet had called saying that there were live worms in the fried chicken they had been served. They said that they had torn a piece of chicken apart to feed their toddler when they spotted scores of wriggly worms inside the meat. We were sceptical at first about finding live worms inside chicken which had been fried. But it turned out to be true,” a senior food safety official said.

A squad of officials, led by District Designated Food Safety Officer D. Sivakumar, reached the outlet and collected the samples of the incriminating food.

Officials said the frozen chicken was brought in bulk from Coimbatore by the food chain, but obviously the cold-chain maintenance must have been poor, leading to the spoilage of the meat and worms starting to fester inside.

They said the method of frying adopted – quick frying in extremely hot oil – did not kill the worms as the heat had not penetrated inside.

French farmer kept ducks stoned to prevent worms; court says no

A 60-year-old duck farmer in France received a one-month suspended sentence and a 500 Euro fine after providing cannabis to his waterfowl.

During the hearing the farmer admitted that he also smoked "a little" marijuana and he justified giving it to his 150 ducks as a "purge." He said there is no better way to deworm the birds. He said was advised to do so, but would not name the specialist who gave the advice.

The farmer was caught after he reported a theft at his home in October. Police arrived to discover 12 marijuana plants and a 5 kilo bag of weed.

The police said this was the first time they have seen anything like this even though they are quite accustomed to hearing silly excuses when it comes to narcotics (or that’s how Amy translated that sentence; thanks to Albert for the story tip).

Worms in water is just an aesthetic issue

Scottish residents are not happy after being told by water chiefs that worms in the water supply are merely an "aesthetic issue."

Customers complained to Scottish Water after they found tiny bloodworms – midge larvae – coming out of their taps. The story says that about 30 householders in Oban are thought to have discovered the 6mm worms when pouring a glass of water.

Jason Rose, a Scottish Water spokesman, apologised for the problem, saying it was an "aesthetic issue" and there was no risk to health.

A resident, who asked not to be named, was quoted as saying,

"The worms may not be dangerous, but they certainly aren’t pleasant. Nobody is going to want to drink, cook or clean with water that is infested with midge larvae. To imply it’s only an ‘aesthetic issue’ is just bloody cheek."