Article on Raw ‘Crow Sashimi’ Sparks Controversy in Japan

The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper recently sparked controversy in Japan with an article on consuming raw crow meat, a practice that experts say could cause serious health problems, even death.

Last month, the Tokyo Shimbun, one of the most-read newspapers in Japan, published an article on the consumption of so-called ‘crow sashimi’ (raw crow meat marinated in various sauces). The journalist basically described their experience eating crow meat both cooked and raw at a gathering of crow meat lovers in Ibaraki Prefecture, claiming that the crow sashimi was both refreshing and easy to chew, compared to the grilled meat which was extremely tough and dry. The article caused a lot of confusion online, and the Japanese Health Ministry ultimately posted a message on its official Twitter account warning people not to indulge in raw crow meat, as it could cost them their lives.

Photo: Kasturi Roy/Unsplash

The crow’s breast is apparently the best for sashimi, with the dark red meat served with soy sauce to enhance its taste. Only a few grams of breast can be harvested from a single crow, but the taste and texture of the meat are apparently worth it, at least according to the writer of the controversial Tokyo Shimbun article. It’s different than beef and fish sashimi, but it doesn’t smell at all and tastes ‘refreshing’.

On the other hand, the charcoal-grilled crow thigh meat was muscular and therefore very tough, similar to beef jerky.

Although the article did mention that Japan’s Environmental Health Division advised against the consumption of raw crow meat, because of a considerable risk of food poisoning, many considered that the overall tone of the article was positive, and crow sashimi actually became a popular topic online. It became so popular that experts felt that they had to put out a warning about consuming raw crow meat.

Photo: Elisa Stone/Unsplash

The Japanese Health Ministry took to Twitter to warn people that although eating crow meat is not illegal, consuming it raw involved a severe risk of infection with the hepatitis E virus, enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, as well as various parasites, which could prove fatal.

The Health and Sanitation Division of Ibaraki Prefecture also advised against the consumption of raw crow meat, adding that it would not file a complaint against the Tokyo Shimbun, but asking other outlets to avoid promoting the practice.

It’s unclear how popular raw crow sashimi is in Japan right now, but judging by the number of Twitter posts mentioning the unusual dish, there are many curious to try it.

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