Sushi Is Safe, for Americans, at Least

Sarah Gilbert

Sushi lovers needn't fear the effects of radiation on their sashimi and tuna rolls -- at least not here in the U.S. For one thing, it will be a long while before anyone starts fishing off the coast of Japan near where the earthquake-ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is emitting dangerous radiation. It will be even longer before any fish caught in those waters makes its way to the United States. And even fish caught off the relatively untouched coastline further south, were they to be exported to the U.S., could not yet have found their way to supermarkets and sushi restaurants in California or Oregon or Washington.

Sushi may be a Japanese specialty, but the fish that goes into American restaurants' artfully sliced and rolled preparations are almost all caught far from the food's homeland. Japan is a very minor food exporter, accounting for only about 4% of our nation's total food imports; over half our fish comes from China, Thailand and Canada; Thailand, for instance, is a source of over 30% of the shrimp sold in the U.S. The rest of America's fish comes from South American and Indonesian countries.