People all over the world tend to be forced to eat sushi with fake or substitute fish!?

Seafood product buyers tend to believe that the products they are purchasing are as described by the sellers. But, that isn’t always the case. Seafood products are sometimes intentionally labeled incorrectly for profit.

This is seafood fraud. Fraudulent actions like this threaten the safety of the food. From the FDA’s “Report on Seafood Fraud”

70% of seafood consumed in the US is eaten at restaurants. The products served at restaurants are generally lower quality than those sold in retail outlets and the sushi is especially appalling. Unless visiting a top-class sushi restaurant (where the prices are, of course, high), you can usually expect to be served the worst of the worst.

There isn’t much a consumer can do about this, but at the very least you can educate yourself on types of fish that are often substituted. If you were to order White Tuna or Red Snapper, you would very likely be served something else. Any shrimp ordered was probably farmed.

There are no laws regulating “Fresh” or “Organic” labels so don’t be fooled by these. In the same way, be suspicious when you see word combinations like “Great Sushi” or “Great Sashimi.” There is no such thing as “Great” in this sense.
By Larry Olmsted, a print columnist for two of America’s three national newspapers, Investor’s Business Daily and USAToday

*FDA・・・Food and Drug Administration

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Revision date: June 4, 2018

Today you will learn how to easily identify artificial salmon roe!

The natural salmon roe season is the autumn. Does this mean that most of the roe eaten during the off-season is artificial Salmon roe. Not necessarily. As stated in his biography, even at the famous sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro, frozen roe is thawed as necessary.

Long ago this was an extremely expensive topping that ordinary people couldn’t afford, so artificial roe was used. There was a time when this was the case. But nowadays salmon roe is regularly imported from overseas and can be obtained cheaper, eliminating the need to use artificial roe instead.

However, we cannot overlook the commercial law for passing off artificial roe as natural roe. In Japan, the non-perishable properties of artificial salmon roe made from chemical substances (mainly sodium alginate) is utilized and used mainly in hospitals, but not sold to the general public. I’ll also tell you that it is very rare to find a sushi restaurant that serves artificial roe. Cheap roe is generally made from eggs of trout, other related species, or imported from Canada and other countries.

Unfortunately I’m not familiar with the state of things outside of Japan, but I can tell you how to tell the difference. All it takes is hot water and a moment of observation. Artificial salmon roe will show no changes in hot water, but natural roe will start to turn white on the surface. This is due to the protein reacting and changing with the heat. That said, this is not an experience you can just set up at the sushi restaurant. Just for your own information.

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Revision date: November 6, 2017

A Guide to Avoiding Food Fraud!

It is true that in an age when aquatic resources are being depleted, there is a worldwide demand for a substitute for luxurious fish. However, although it’s not easy to tell fish apart once it’s sliced, that doesn’t mean that restaurants should not be held to certain standards. Here we present a number of severe cases.

First of all, Opah belly meat with some fat is used for the tuna in Negi-toro (tuna minced with Welsh onion leaves). Opah is widely distributed in warm seas and it’s known to be inexpensive with a smooth taste. The price is less than 1/100 of the Pacific bluefin tuna and if possible Negi-toro made from Opah should be avoided.

Next let’s discuss Japanese conger, an essential Edo-style sushi topping. A substitute for Japanese conger is the Common snake eel, which is a type of sea snake from Peru. The taste is pretty good, but the skin is rubbery and it doesn’t stick to the Shari (vinegar rice) so it’s instantly apparent that it’s a substitute fish. If you find Japanese conger at kaiten-zushi for JPY 100 per plate, you might want to question the source.

A premium sushi topping is the Mirugai clam (also called Hon-miru). This shellfish is characterized by its unique texture and taste. Instead the Japanese geoduck (Shiro-miru) is used, which sells for half the market price. However, the taste of the two is so similar that even Sushi Tsu has mistaken them, which is great news for dishonest dealers.

In April 2015 the Food Labeling Act was revised, leading to progressive reduction of fraudulent labels, but it is not a solution that eradicates dishonest dealers so consumers need to be educated and aware.

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Revision date: September 21, 2017

Why are the prices at fancier sushi restaurants and Kaiten-zushi (Conveyor belt sushi) so different?

In some cases a two-piece sushi dish you can get for JPY 100 at Kaiten-zushi (Conver belt sushi) can cost up to 2,000 for half the volume at a fancy restaurant. Many Kaiten-zushi establishments are part of large chains so costs are kept low by buying in bulk.

Also, unlike the fancy restaurants, which procure the best seasonal catch from fishing grounds all over the country, Kaiten-zushi uses a combination of frozen and farmed fish as well as substituting some fish for certain toppings.

For example, Engawa is often thought to be from Japanese flounder, but Pacific halibut or Greenland halibut is used instead as a substitute.

While different from fancy sushi restaurants that serve various seasonal fish and edomaeshigoto, Kaiten-zushi has its own merits and offers sushi at a much lower price. It’s really up to the customer what they hope to get from their sushi experience.


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Revision date: July 3, 2017