When Is Sushi OK?

Updated on February 29, 2008
M.M. asks from Cincinnati, OH
13 answers

My 19 mo. old daughter looooves sushi. She's been eating miso and edamame for months. I recently let her start nibling on my rolls as well, mostly just the rice and avocado but the other day I gave her a chopstick full of the crab mix (real crab) and she totally dug it.

When is it okay for her to full on eat sushi? The real, raw stuff? She's curious about my sashimi and I am wondering is its okay if she has raw tuna/salmon/crab, etc.

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answers from Anchorage on

As soon as they start eating start feeding it two them. I grew up on raw fish, clams and seafood. Just a little at a time dont over do it. YUM! What ever I eat my kids eat.

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answers from Spokane on

Sushi in the Raw

How risky is the raw fish in sushi? California Health Services researchers recently studied seven risky foods that can carry infections, and what should appear on their list? You guessed it: raw fresh fish.

The good news: According to Phillip Spiller, former director of the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Seafood, generally, seafood is very safe to eat. He says that on a pound-for-pound basis, seafood is at least as safe as other meat sources. But he adds that no food is completely safe.

The bad: If you do encounter raw fish parasites, the effects can range from mild discomfort to severe illness, depending on the type of worm you ingest, according to the Environmental Nutrition newsletter. If the culprit is a tapeworm, fluke, or flatworm, you may not even know it until it passes out in your stool. Or you might experience nausea, cramps, and diarrhea.

And the ugly: If the worm you swallow is the roundworm (Anisakis simplex), it may tickle your throat as it is swallowed, causing you to cough or vomit it up. Or it can bore into your stomach or gut lining, causing severe abdominal inflammation and pain that mimics appendicitis or an ulcer, often within an hour of eating. Getting the worm out at this point is no simple matter - it requires an endoscope or surgery.

The cure: Commercial freezing for at least 72 hours at 4 degrees Fahrenheit kills the parasitic worms and their larvae. Please note, though, that home freezers usually can't reach temperatures this low.

So what's a sushi lover to do?

Order sushi from reputable restaurants, where the restaurant and fish provider follow food safety standards. You can ask if the fish has been previously frozen.
Completely cooked is always the safest way to eat fish
The FDA recommends that you don't risk eating raw fish if you're pregnant or have a compromised immune system.
Don't make your own sushi with raw fish unless you can freeze the fish for more than 72 hours at 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead, use cooked fish or vegetables. For example, California roll (see recipe below) is made with avocado and cooked crabmeat.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

It isn't just concern over parasites - you don't want to run the risk of triggering an allergic reaction by introducing certain foods too early. My son had peanut butter too early - and we discovered that he was allergic to peanuts. Luckily he didn't die, but we now carry an epi-pen with us wherever we go. Wait until your daughter is at least 2, preferrably 3



answers from Spokane on

If she likes sushi, but you are afraid to give her raw tuna, etc. Try making her or giving her a deep fried roll. It is the same thing as regular sushi, only after it is made, they coat it in a panko and then deep fry it for about 2 minutes. It gives it a nice flavor, but also heats the roll through and through, which will slightly cook the samon, tuna, etc.
Where I am from, we have a sushi restaurant, and I order a special roll for my nephews. Crab, avocado, & cream cheese deep fried, with eel sauce on top. They are totally into it!



answers from Seattle on

I looked online for you and i found that it is recommended that children up to age 12 stay away from it. Here is what it says:

"Women who plan to become pregnant, those who are already pregnant or nursing, children up to age 12, elderly people, and anyone with liver disease or any other disease or condition that compromises their immune system should steer clear of raw fish.

It’s also prudent for those at high risk to heed the advice of the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency and stay away from high-mercury fish. The fish highest in mercury are shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish."

So, I would def not give it to her as a mom.



answers from Portland on

I was just reading yesterday about how Fish has high levels of mercury due to all the pollution in our lakes, rivers and oceans and also the way they raise them at the fish farms with all the antibiotics and hormones. Do some research on it before making your decision. my advice would be to stick with the rice and avacado rolls and keep away from the possibly contaminated fish. My 9 year old daughter loves tuna fish and I am wary of giving it to her now. I need to do some more research as well...



answers from Seattle on

I think that first you should discuss this with your daughters doctor. Everyone here will have an opinion, but if your daughter gets sick, your doctor has to deal with it, so that should be the person you check with.
My husband and I love sushi and we have given our 15 month daughter sushi that is purely vegitarian.
Raw fish contains too many micro-organisms and recently been noted to contain high levels of mercury. You can never be to careful.



answers from Portland on

Hi M.,

At 15 months, my little guy has had raw-fish sushi a couple of times, and for what it's worth, my husband is a pediatrician. I'd bet that most pediatricians will probably tell you to steer clear of raw sushi. Of course it's possible to get food poisoning from sushi, but assuming you are going to a reputable restaurant, a person is much more likely to get food-borne illness from (accidentally) undercooked meat, among other sources, than from sushi. And sushi is a great source of omega-3's, and a great food to enjoy in life. So we've decided that we feel comfortable giving our little guy the good stuff. We do avoid giving him certain types of sushi: shellfish, like scallops or shrimp, which are more likely than regular fish to carry illness-causing bugs, and bigger fish that can be high in mercury, like tuna. Mercury, of course, is a concern whether the fish is raw or cooked. You can find some useful info on mercury content and such at several different sites, including http://www.environmentaldefense.org/page.cfm?tagID=17694.

So I don't think there's an obvious answer--it really depends on what you're comfortable with. But do know that folks--including those in the medical establishment--are often overly concerned about sushi, b/c they lump it with other raw meats, which are much more concerning than raw fish. Best of luck with your decision, and I hope that your little one enjoys her sushi for life, either now or later, depending what you decide!

Take care, J



answers from Portland on

Mind you this is totally based on personal experience, but my daughter has been eating all types of sushi since she was really young and she was fine. She just loves it! And in case you don't know, you can get individual packs of endamame at Costco. They are perfect for heating up for a quick and healthful snack. :-)



answers from Seattle on

I think you've gotten some good answers here, I think fish is GREAT for children (and people of all ages) and if you know that it is fresh and of good quality I wouldn't be too worried about it. I HATE staying away from sushi while I'm pregnant, it's my biggest sacrifice by far!

I just want to respond to all the people that posted concerned about mercury. NOT ALL FISH IS HIGH IN MERCURY!!! I think too many people that are already shy of seafood use the mercury as an excuse to stay away from it altogether. Only a select few types of fish (the big big ones, like tilefish, swordfish, LARGE tuna, king mackerel, etc) stay alive long enough to build up quantities of mercury in their systems. Salmon, shrimp, crab, small tuna, trout, halibut and many, many other types of seafood do not have measurable mercury levels in them and the health benefits not only far outweigh the risks, there is very little if ANY risk!

In the case of raw fish, I would ONLY be concerned about parasites and such, and again, that will have more to do with the freshness of the fish and care of preparation, which you would have to be comfortable about for your daughter.

Enjoy your sushi, I still have 5 more months to wait before our third is born before I can indulge again!



answers from Portland on

Baby should not be eating shell fish (crab) until after age 2. Any fresh water fish that eats other fish (tuna) has murcury and should be fed to her no more than once a week. I can't find any specific age in which raw fish is okay, but everything I have read says not to feed children sushi because their bodies are too small and immature to handle the parasites. I would not feed it to her until at least 6. Stick with the cooked stuff. Better safe than sorry just for a good meal!



answers from Portland on

If you go to Marine Polis/Sushi Land, you can get her a sashimi dish (just like Mommy's) but have them blowtorch it for you to cook the fish part. Ah, flame-kissed!



answers from Portland on

I have heard the recommendation that small children not eat raw fish sushi because their systems are not as able to handle the organisms that might be in the fish.

My granddaughter who is 7 and has been eating sushi for the past year is not interested in eating anything raw. I don't know if that is her natural defenses or if raw fish just look yucky to her. I do not encourage her to eat raw fish. There are many kinds that are made of cooked fish as well as veggies. We go to Marineopolis, also called Sushi Land, where the diners sit around a conveyer belt and take off their choices. And idea would be to keep a cooked item on your plate along with the raw one and give her the cooked one.

They also say the elderly shouldn't have sushi. I just discovered it and love it. What age is considered elderly? I'm 65 and all my forbears thought that was elderly. Chuckle I eat raw sushi and love it. No negative affects so far.

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