TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A customer who ordered takeout sushi in Taipei last week inadvertently discovered that parts of the meal glowed in the dark.
A female user of the Facebook group Breaking News Commune (爆料公社) wrote that on May 4 she had gone to a branch of Sushi Express Group (爭鮮) to purchase sushi to go. However, once home, she found that after she turned out the lights, the shrimp were inexplicably glowing in the dark, and even the rice was glowing, prompting concern over whether previous orders had similar issues.
She searched online and found that luminescence in the shrimp may be caused by an infection of luminescent bacteria or that the shrimp had eaten plankton or luminescent bacteria before being caught. Another possibility she considered was that the restaurant had added chemicals containing phosphorous, such as food additives, during processing.
Some netizens compared the blueish glow to Matsu's famous blue tears, which are caused by planktonic organisms called dinoflagellates or sea sparkles that glow neon blue when they are disturbed. They left comments such as "blue tears sushi," "appreciating blue tears at home," and "you don't need to go to Matsu to enjoy blue tears." Others even expressed interest in eating the phosphorescent seafood, "Boss, I would like an order of glowing sushi!"
Chen Yi-ting (陳怡婷), head of the Taipei Department of Health's Food and Drug Division, was cited by Liberty Times as saying that staff would be sent to the restaurant to investigate the purchase and confirm whether it affects food safety. After clarification, they will ask the Food and Drug Administration, beyond examining raw food for microorganisms, whether additional items should be inspected.
Sushi Express issued a statement on Monday (May 8) in response to the incident emphasizing that the shrimp had passed the SGS Group testing report, which included testing for Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, with all results coming back negative. It asserted that no harmful bacteria had been detected.
It added that the supplier had provided a statement confirming that no fluorescent whitening agent was added to the shrimp. Sushi Express said that many substances in nature can produce "fluorescent reactions," and food is no different.
The restaurant pointed out that shrimp itself contains fluorescent substances. Under the 366 nm wavelength of UV light, the shrimp's shell has a strong purple fluorescent reaction, and the shrimp's flesh is slightly blue, which is not caused by the addition of artificial fluorescent whitening agents.
Sushi Express emphasized that it will regularly have SGS Group personnel to inspect its regulated products and conduct strict food safety checks through a neutral third-party certification process.
Shrimp seen glowing in the dark (Breaking News Commune photo)
Shrimp and rice seen glowing in the dark (Breaking News Commune)