Can You Eat Raw Salmon?

It is beyond any doubt that salmon has serval health benefits. It is one of the most popular choices of seafood. However, you need to be cautious about eating salmon raw. It is important to first be aware of whether it is safe to eat uncooked salmon.  Let us have a look at what might happen if you eat salmon without cooking.

May harbor pathogens

If you eat raw salmon, you could be at risk of food poisoning. Uncooked salmon may harbor harmful pathogens including bacteria and parasites, which can enter your stomach and cause serious infections. The contamination of salmon may occur due to the improper handling during fishing and processing. Cooking salmon can kill these pathogens making salmon safe to eat. [1]

Helminths infection

The Food and Drug Administration has listed salmon as a common source of parasites such as Helminths. Helminths are worm-like pathogens like roundworms and tapeworms. Uncooked or raw salmon may contain these parasites making it unsuitable for consumption. It is advisable to cook salmon before eating so that parasites are rendered ineffective in causing an infection. [2]

Helminths can live in your intestine where they can multiply and grow causing serious symptoms such as loose motions, abdominal pain, vomiting, and so on. The parasites can grow to more than 12 meters or 39 feet long thereby worsening the symptoms over time. Patients may also develop abrupt weight loss and anemia if the condition is not treated properly.

Viral infections

Just like most other types of seafood, raw salmon can also be contaminated with viruses.  There are a number of viruses that can be present in raw salmon some of which include Hepatitis A virus and Norovirus.

Hepatitis A virus can cause infection in the liver thus affecting the functions of this organ. It can also lead to acute symptoms like high fever, weakness, loss of appetite, and loose motions. [3]

Exposure to toxins

Uncooked salmon may contain toxins and environmental contaminants. It has been found that wild as well as farmed salmon harbor traces of organic pollutants and heavy metals. This makes the consumption of raw salmon harmful to your health. It can facilitate the exposure of the healthy tissues to pollutants and toxic metals, which can cause damage to the organs.

What is the best way to consume raw salmon?

If you choose to eat uncooked salmon, you must make sure that it has been blast-frozen to -35°C (-31°F), a temperature at which the parasites in it are killed.

Yet, it should be noted that blast-freezing does not help to kill all pathogens. The salmon may still contain bacteria and viruses that survive lower temperatures.

Hence, it is best to avoid eating raw salmon and always eat it in a cooked form to avoid infections by bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

References:

  1. Iwamoto M, Ayers T, Mahon BE, Swerdlow DL. Epidemiology of seafood-associated infections in the United States. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2010;23(2):399–411. doi:10.1128/CMR.00059-09
  2. Iwamoto M, Ayers T, Mahon BE, Swerdlow DL. Epidemiology of seafood-associated infections in the United States. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2010;23(2):399–411. doi:10.1128/CMR.00059-09
  3. Iwamoto M, Ayers T, Mahon BE, Swerdlow DL. Epidemiology of seafood-associated infections in the United States. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2010;23(2):399–411. doi:10.1128/CMR.00059-09