Safe Sushi Practises for Little Ones
Updated: Jan 6
Sushi rolls are a Friday night favourite in my household. They happen to be the perfect shape for my toddler to grab and self-feed. Before we dug in as a family, I wanted to check in on the safety of offering my toddler raw fish or shellfish.
This is what we found out:
Raw fish and shellfish may carry bacteria or toxins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found sushi accounted for 0.3% of all foodborne illnesses.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stipulates that fish to be eaten raw (sushi, sashimi) must be flash frozen and kept frozen for 24-48 hours to effectively kill parasites.
Health Canada states that children 5 and under are at increased risk of food born illness.
Whole, larger pieces of raw fish or shellfish can be tough to chew by inexperienced chewers.
Fish and shellfish are one of Canada’s priority allergens.
Fish roe, the red little fish eggs that can be found on many rolls including those with cooked fish or shellfish are raw and considered to be in the allergen family along with fish and shellfish.
What about the Japanese, don’t they feed sushi to their infants?
In Japan, cooked rice porridge with meat or fish is often the first food.
Japanese moms typically feed their children who are being weaned cooked, shredded fish along with other baby-friendly foods.
Japanese parenting magazines recommend that you do not feed raw fish products to very young children.
Culturally, sushi is more of an occasional food.
Tips to enjoy sushi and include your little one:
WHAT TO ORDER
Ask the server to relay to the Chef to kindly wash hands or use new gloves when making the rolls you will order for your kiddo(s).
California roll or rolls with cooked meat, egg, fish or shellfish but ask the Chef to forgo the roe. Roe or fish eggs are raw.
Teriyaki chicken, fish, veg or fish or beef along a side of sticky rice and shredded or spiralized vegetable (optional) often used for a garnish.
HOW TO OFFER IT
Ask that they don’t cut the roll. Chefs often use the same knife to cut all the rolls which means cross contamination with raw seafood. Cut it yourself. That also means you can cut thinner rolls for your little one for easier chewing.
With the teriyaki options, ask them to use very little sauce. It has a lot of sodium. Wrap a piece of teriyaki in the sticky rice along with some vegetable and roll into a little ball or log-shape for your little one to enjoy.
If the rolls or rice are a little dry and hard to chew, offer sips of water between bites. Soy sauce should not be offered due to its sodium content but mayonnaise is a less salty option to use as a dip that is a staple at all sushi restaurants.
FOOD ALLERGY WARNING
A social meal should not be the first time you introduce priority allergens to your child. Contact me more about the protocol to follow when introducing food allergens.
Sushi and teriyaki commonly contain the following priority allergens: Fish/Shellfish, Soy, Egg, Sesame.
Special thanks to Bavina Sivayogeswaran, 4th year nutrition student at Ryerson University. She did the research for this post.