PWC – the world’s second largest professional services firm – conducted research into our growing focus on healthy eating in 2016, and the numbers confirm that this emphasis on eating better is on the rise.
The firm also claimed that millennials are particularly concerned with counting calories and we’re more likely to prioritize healthy eating during the week. Lisa Hooker, a partner at the firm, commented on the findings.
There are a range of ‘healthy’ food-to-go operators targeting the mid-week lunch occasion where people are more likely to focus on eating healthily. In addition, food operators are now focusing more on freshness and provenance given its importance to consumers when eating out.
“Food-to-go” foods mentioned in the above comment refer to meals like sandwiches and sushi. As Lisa Hooker explained, suppliers in this market are jumping on the healthy eating trend. Irish company Greencore supplies many food retailers with food-to-go products and is the largest provider of sandwiches in the world. Food-to-go in the UK made up 40% of their total revenue in 2016 and is maintaining “strong growth”, according to the company. In addition to this, growing demand for sandwiches, salads and sushi was linked to the firm’s 8% rise in half-year revenues.
British grocery chain Waitrose also confirmed this trend in their 2016 food report, which states that sushi sales rose by 20%. Not only are we gobbling up more sushi than ever before, Waitrose has predicted that poke (pronounced POH-keh) – a Hawaiian salad made with raw fish, lime, soy and sesame – is set to become the next big food trend, just like sushi burst on to the scene around 20 years ago.
Why is all this important?
Well, it seems that doctors are concerned that our growing love for sushi might come with certain risks. A 32 year old man from Portugal was rushed to hospital following severe stomach aches and vomiting, only for doctors to find something worrying in his stomach.
The patient had been ill for over a week. Blood tests conducted showed mild inflammation, and also revealed that the area below his ribs was very tender. When the man told doctors that he has recently eaten sushi, doctors then suspected that he might have anisakiasis.
Anisakiasis is a parasitic disease caused by anisakid worms which invade the stomach wall or intestine. This disease is particularly relevant to the topic of growing sushi consumption because the infective larvae which cause it are ingested through raw fish or squid – a major concern for anyone who’s a fan of meals like sushi or poke. Below is a picture of an intestine which has been infested with an anisakid worm.
Once doctors suspected the sick man might be suffering from this condition, a long tube was then inserted into his stomach through a process called an endoscopy. The worm was then found to have infested the man’s gastrointestinal tract. It was firmly attached to a swollen part of his gut lining, thus explaining the swelling they had seen earlier and the pain the patient was experiencing.
A special net was used to remove the larvae “and the patient’s symptoms resolved immediately”, according to the medical team from the Lisbon hospital which treated him. They shared their discovery and details of the case in an article published in the British Medical Journal.
They added that most of cases of anisakiasis to date had been reported in Japan but warned that “it has been increasingly recognized in Western countries”. Perhaps sushi isn’t as healthy a lunch option as we might have thought. Though we all shouldn’t panic just yet, this news places a greater burden on food providers to ensure that meals containing raw seafood do not put consumer’s health at risk.