Should you risk eating chicken sashimi?
Foodies online were stunned this week at the discovery that chicken sashimi exists, causing a row over what food is and isn’t safe to eat raw.
Chicken sashimi, occasionally known as chicken tartare, is most popular across Japan and served with other raw meats like fish, seafood and sometimes even beef.
It’s prepared by being boiled or seared for around 10 seconds, leaving the inside of the meat raw, which isn’t enough time to kill the harmful bacteria that are usually found in chicken like Campylobacter and Salmonella.
Although dishes like sashimi and sushi are incredibly popular in Japan, their Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare have warned of the serious risks associated with eating raw chicken and asked restaurants to reconsider how their chicken is prepared to ensure the safety of diners from the likes of Campylobacter.
What is Campylobacter?
- Campylobacter is often found in the digestive system of chickens and is transmitted to humans from poor food safety and hygiene measures.
- With around 280,000 reported cases a year it’s the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, and also the most serious with roughly one death every three days.
- Symptoms can take several days to start and consist of diarrhoea and stomach cramps, but severe cases can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome and even reactive arthritis.
- Studies from the FSA have found that approximately 73% of raw chicken sold in supermarkets and 7% of the outer packaging are contaminated with Campylobacter.
- To avoid picking up a Campylobacteriosis infection make sure you cook chicken thoroughly, wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw poultry or packaging and disinfect any utensils or surfaces used to prepare the food.
Even though red meat, such as beef, can be served as steak tartare, carpaccio or in rare burger patties if prepared hygienically, it’s still extremely important to thoroughly cook chicken to an internal temperature of 75C to ensure that all bacteria have been killed off.
In Japan, restaurants that serve chicken sashimi work closely with farms to ensure their chickens are reared to high standards and are served as fresh possible, so it’s certainly not a dish you should be attempting at home and even more so if you’re immune-compromised, pregnant, or very young or old.
This is backed up with advice from the FSA who state that 'all raw chicken is unsafe to eat, regardless of the conditions that the birds have been kept in" because of the serious threat of Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli poisoning.