Jun 252007

Does Salmonella really exist? Or is it just a big conspiracy invented by the FDA to keep people buying and renewing their foods regularly? I’ve lived in Japan for nearly two years now, and over that time have eaten countless portions of raw beef, raw chicken, raw fish, raw eggs, and even raw horse. Eggs are never refrigerated, and food is often prepared long before it’s actually eaten. Yet I’ve not had a single case of the runs since coming here. So what gives? Why are we so freaked out by uncooked foods in the US, such that we’ll throw out a pack of eggs after accidentally leaving it on the counter overnight?

I’ve been wondering this for awhile, but just decided to write about it after reading a similar post about health standards in China. The author discusses how, despite the country’s world-famous lack of cleanliness, he’s only gotten sick off of bad food once in three years. Personally, I wasn’t quite so lucky when I visited the Middle Kingdom in 2005…yet he does make some very interesting points.

So what gives?

  6 Responses to “Salmonella”

  1. yeah i was a little sketched out at that raw chicken platter we dug into too… but I felt fine after!

    hmmm… maybe because the Japanese are used to handling raw food (especially raw fish of course) they somehow prepare it differently in a way that makes it last?

  2. Ultimate Irony: Guess what kind of illness I’m suffering from today, for the first time since moving to Japan… 😳

  3. Living in this country for 2 years has made me realize that everything I learned whilst earning my degree in microbiology was all lies. LIES!!!

  4. Also remember that the USA produces meat/poultry in MASSIVE amounts so careless handling is much more common here. It’s not due to America being lazier/more careless than Japan, it’s just the amount of food and the process of distributing it is much more complicated. That’s how feces and rotten food occasionally get mixed in. Think of the contaminated spinach and onion scares out here. I’m not so sure what the deal of salmonella is, but there’s no doubt that American food has greater risk for contamination due to its sheer size and time it takes to transport vs. Japan’s distribution, which deals with a much smaller supply of food. Maybe salmonella has become a way to account for the bacteria often present in American food that cooking will kill off, and the truth behind what salmonella actually is is therefore obscured.

    The point is, I’d eat raw beef in Japan but not in America. 🙂

  5. Interesting point. Still though, it just seems weird that they don’t even REFRIGERATE their eggs before eating them raw and yet they don’t have any problems with it…

    Incidentally, I used to put raw eggs in my protein shakes back in the US and I never had any problems with it there either 😛

  6. Amy Nakazawa of Blue Lotus, a food and travel in Japan blog, has written about the lack of salmonella in Japan before. Here’s one of her entries about it. She posits essentially what nthaler suggested. There’s also an interesting bit in there about how America soaks chicken in water…

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