Is sushi safe for kids?

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Saturday, April 18, 2015
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It's an incredibly popular cuisine, but is sushi safe for kids?

There are almost 4,000 sushi restaurants in the US - and the Japanese dish continues to gain popularity, even with kids.

If your child is one who does like sushi, it's important to be safe. The FDA recommends that children under five don't consume raw fish or shellfish, and dietician Susan Mitchell agrees.

"In children, their immune system is not completely developed until they're about 5-years-old," Mitchell said. "So if a child younger than five eats raw fish and gets food poisoning, it could really be catastrophic."

Eating cooked sushi is the best option at a young age.

"Sushi in itself, if it's using lean fish and vegetables and avocado, can be very healthy," Mitchell said.

Chef Ryan Leto of Roy's Restaurant in Tampa believes cooking sushi at home is a good way to introduce children to healthy eating.

"We're going to be demoing our shrimp and avocado roll," Leto said.

"First thing you're going to do is take your soy paper, which is an alternative to the seaweed that you would usually use," said Joshua Vandenberg, a sushi chef at Roy's Restaurant.

He says to keep your fingers wet because the sushi rice can be sticky.

"Take a ball of rice, a little bit smaller than a baseball, and you would spread it out across the top," Vandenberg said.

Lay the avocado down across the soy paper and then the fully cooked shrimp.

"We're just going to fold it over and make it touch on that backside, and then come up, and roll it all the way over," Vandenberg said.

Once everything's on there, pat the ends and sprinkle sesame seeds. And make sure an adult does the cutting.

"Anything you make at home and you get your family involved in the kitchen, mix tradition, is a wonderful way to bring the family around the table," Mitchell said.

Tuna is considered to be one of the easiest fish to digest, and normally safe for children. Like any seafood, beware of consuming too much mercury. Raw shellfish is considered the most dangerous to eat because it's most likely to be contaminated.