2011: Imported seafood from Japan is absolutely safe

Cultural News, 2011 May Issue

Andy Matsuda’s Sushi School / Chef’s cutting board

By Andy Matsuda

Chef Andy Matsuda Sushi Chef Institute

Chef Andy Matsuda (Couetesy of Sushi Chef Institute)

From April 24-30, the Magic Castle in Hollywood presented “Japan Night” to raise funds for the victims of Japan’s disaster. I was asked to cater for the April 27-30 shows because Japanese magicians were featured on those nights. I prepared three sushi menus for the audiences and received a lot of orders.

Thanks to the American people’s efforts to help Japanese people in North-Eastern Japan. I grew up in the western part of Japan and my hometown is in the mountains. I had never experienced a tsunami disaster before even though Japan is a country nearly 1,500 miles long in geography.

Despite the fact that radiation is still leaking, the accident at Fukushima nuclear-power station seems under control. The Japanese government is conducting very strict radiation checks on food and fish near the nuclear plant.

On the American side, the Food and Drug Administration is also conducting radiation checks everyday at Los Angeles International Airport, gateway to importing Japanese seafood to the West Coast. Because of this precautionary effort, the customs clearance of Japanese seafood is delayed for one day.

When I recently talked with an American person, he thought all of Japan is contaminated with Fukushima’s radiation. But it is not true. Japan is similar in size to California on a geographic scale. The rest of the Japan’s land is very far way from Fukushima. For example, fish caught in the southern Kyushu area is absolutely safe in terms of radiation level. Seafood wholesalers on the West Coast have already changed suppliers, and they are buying more fish from the southern part of Japan instead of the northern part.

When you find imported seafood from Japan at Japanese restaurants, don’t panic because the seafood has already passed U.S. FDA checks.

Andy Matsuda is the founder and the chief instructor of Sushi Chef Institute in Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.sushischool.net or www.facebook.com/andy.matsuda.