Can You Eat Raw Salmon: Nutrition, Side Effects & Safety

Deepanshu Bedi

Salmon is a delicacy enjoyed by several people. Interestingly, you can either eat salmon raw or smoked. Although salmon is essential and has several health benefits, most people eating it raw could face problems.

We’ve come across many tasty treats that are unsafe for consumption. It makes you wonder if it is safe to eat raw salmon. If you’ve been wondering whether it is safe to eat raw salmon, we’ve got some good news for you.

It is entirely safe to eat salmon raw, but only if you have it adequately frozen and prepared well. You don’t have to worry about researching the processes; we have you covered.

What Is Salmon?

Salmon is a common name for some commercially essential fish. You can find abundant salmon in the North Atlantic waters, where they are natives. Salmons are important in the fish market due to the nutrients found in them.

Additionally, most people prefer salmon as sushi-grade raw fish for their restaurants. Salmon are also important for recreational fishing since they can thrive in fresh and salt waters.

Nowadays, it is common to find salmon in the North American Great Lakes or South America’s Patagonia.

Importance Of Raw Salmon Nutrition

Raw salmon is one popular food classified as “oily fish.” Most people consider salmon healthy because it has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and vitamin D. Furthermore, Salmon is regarded as high-quality best fish oil supplements because it contains quality cholesterol (23-214 mg/100g)

Farmed salmon may also have high levels of dioxin and PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl). Interestingly, farmed salmon has higher levels of PCB than wild salmon, although the levels are still too low to cause harm to the body.

Salmon is important as a food source but is also crucial in the traditions and cultures of many tribes. Whichever form of salmon you eat, you will enjoy quality nutrients. For example, wild-caught salmon with white flesh contains carotenoids required by your body.

Black bears also depend on salmon to feed. The leftovers from bear feeding are nutrition for the soil, plants, and trees.

Ways Of Preparing Salmon

Salmon is a dish enjoyed by natives of many countries. Some people eat raw salmon, while others prepare it as smoked salmon. Hence, you will find varying ways of preparing raw fish like salmon.

Alternatively, you can find people who prefer something other than raw or smoked salmon.

Each form of salmon has its own health benefits. Cooked salmon eliminates the chances of food poisoning associated with eating raw fish. Alternatively, you could eat appropriately prepared raw salmon or go for properly smoked salmon to avoid parasites.

Most people prefer eating cooked and smoked salmon because the heating process helps to kill parasites trapped in the raw fish. For your food safety, you must choose the freshest fish from good sources to enjoy your seafood experience.

Can You Eat Raw Salmon? The Straight Answer

Eating raw seafood like salmon has its advantages. Most people prefer to eat raw salmon because it is a famous ingredient in several dishes worldwide. However, eating undercooked salmon could pose severe problems for you.

Raw salmon features prominently in dishes like sushi. However, these individuals must ensure that the salmon they pick is sushi-grade and will not cause harm to the body when consumed. Raw salmon dishes like sashimi usually use salmon as their main ingredient.

Most Nordic regions of the world prepare raw salmon, sugar, and salt combined with a dill appetizer called gravlax. This delicacy sends your brain into ecstasy since it provides the right mix of all the ingredients. However, you need to understand that raw salmon is still raw fish.

Like salmon, all-natural animal proteins have small amounts of danger when consuming their raw flesh. Like all other raw animal proteins, there are several risks associated with eating raw salmon. Such hazards include bacterial or helminthic infestations like Salmonella. Are these risks enough for you to avoid raw salmon altogether? Not really.

If you are wondering how much fish oil you should take? Click here to find out.

Should You Eat Salmon Raw?

Salmon stands out among other animal proteins. For example, raw pork tends to have life-threatening effects when contracting diseases like trichinosis. However, raw salmon does not have such life-threatening effects.

Although you may not die from eating bad salmon, it is still not a good experience, as you may not have the fun you had imagined. You only need to consider a few things when preparing your raw salmon or when you want to eat fresh or frozen seafood.

You will probably find your salmon at a local store. Although you can eat raw Salmon, you can still pick raw fish from a location. Selecting salmon for raw consumption from these stores reduces the risk of developing gut diseases.

Additionally, salmon is safer than other animal proteins or fresh fish proteins. You only have to ensure that your local store processes its frozen fish appropriately to enjoy your frozen seafood.

Is It Safe To Eat Raw Salmon?

It is safe to eat raw, frozen seafood like salmon. Eating your farmed Alaskan salmon is safer since chefs process it as sushi-grade fish. Consuming raw salmon from the right stores is the best way to eat your frozen seafood safely. Such places have flash-frozen Salmon in their frozen food section and will offer quality to anyone that buys from them.

You can eat your salmon raw if you want. However, ensure your salmon is adequately prepared before you eat. You must cook Salmon properly if you’re going to have total confidence in the product you consume.

Another way to ensure the safety of your salmon is to buy it at Costco. Also, ensure to purchase farm-raised salmon since they eliminate the chances of contamination from persistent organic pollutants.

Ensure to patronize restaurants serving fresh Salmon to prevent disease infestation or a bad experience. Also, ask such restaurants if they use previously frozen salmon in their cooking process while making sushi or other dishes.

Although cooking salmon usually ruins these dishes, it prevents any foodborne illnesses like liver disease or others from harboring in them. If they do not have freshly-prepared salmon, it is best to patronize other places.

Are There Any Side Effects Associated With Eating Raw Salmon?

Although raw Salmon has many health benefits, eating raw Salmon could also have unpleasant experiences. You will experience abdominal pain, constipation, and other infections if you eat salmon from unknown sources.

It is best to eat Costco salmon or salmon from a known source. Many stores usually publish the basis of their Salmon. If you want to avoid Salmonella and other pathogens, ensure that the salmon gets adequately handled while preparing it in your kitchen or restaurant.

Buy salmon that does not contain trace amounts of environmental contaminants since constant human exposure to these contaminants could cause more harm.

Additionally, pregnant women should avoid eating raw salmon since the babies inside them do not have robust immune systems to fight back against parasites and other pathogens.

Is it Safe to Consume Undercooked Salmon?

It is never a good idea to eat undercooked salmon. Although cooking salmon makes it relatively safe and eating raw salmon is still safe, undercooked salmon is not. If you must cook your salmon, ensure a minimum internal temperature of 63 degrees Celsius.

Why should you properly cook your salmon? That’s quite simple. Most pathogens do well in temperatures between four degrees and 60 degrees Celsius. Hence, frozen salmon is too cold for any foodborne illness-causing pathogens to thrive.

On the other hand, adequately cooked salmon is too hot for these pathogens to thrive. Undercooked salmon is the breeding ground for these pathogens. It is best to avoid eating undercooked salmon so you don’t get contaminated by these pathogens.

Can Farmed Atlantic Salmon Be Eaten Raw?

You can eat farmed Atlantic salmon raw as long as it comes from a good source. Also, ensure that your salmon does not have pollutants to avoid food poisoning. You can eat wild salmon, but ensure that you pick one with no contaminants. Additionally, eat sushi-grade salmon to eliminate the chances of contamination.

Can You Eat Costco Salmon Raw?

You can eat raw salmon from Costco because it prepares and freezes its salmon correctly. You will discover that Costco stores its frozen salmon under proper environmental and storage conditions. Hence, bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens fail to thrive in these storage conditions. When you buy from Costco, you get the assurance that the salmon comes from the best sources and does not contain any pollutants that could harm your health. Hence, you can trust the product to offer quality health benefits once consumed.

Is Raw Salmon Meant For Everyone?

Although we have discussed the several benefits of raw salmon, only some are allowed to eat it. A few people cannot consume raw salmon. Firstly, pregnant women must not consume this meat to avoid cross-contamination with their babies. Since a baby’s immune system is not as strong as an adult’s, it is not advisable for expectant mothers to eat raw salmon.

Another group of people that must avoid raw salmon are infants and children. These groups have developing immune systems. Hence, any form of disease infestation could cause severe issues. Older adults must not consume raw salmon because it could cause adverse effects if infected with pathogens.

It is best to avoid raw salmon and fish if you have diabetes. People with poor immune systems must also not consume raw fish or salmon to prevent health complications.

People with immune system deficiencies and those surviving on transplanted organs should also avoid raw fish and salmon. The same goes for people receiving cancer treatments and those with liver disease. Why must these individuals avoid raw salmon?

The groups mentioned above must avoid raw fish and salmon because their immune systems cannot handle what most people can. Unlike these individuals, most people can shrug off a few infections and experience only an upset stomach or a slight headache.

Something as simple as an upset stomach or diarrhea may not be that simple for people with compromised immunity. In such instances, these individuals should avoid eating raw salmon altogether.

Risks Associated With Contaminated Raw Salmon

As we stated earlier, raw salmon has several health benefits. However, contaminated raw salmon is not worth the hype, as it contains several contaminants that could cause harm to your system. Many people eat farm-raised, sushi-grade salmon. But what happens if the salmon has pollutants in it?

    • Parasites And Bacteria Could Pose Health Threats

Interestingly, you can still find bacteria and parasites in food products even after using all the available health and safety guidelines. It’s not the fault of the food producers or the safety regulators.

There is always a slight risk of food contamination with bacteria and parasites. Since these organisms are living things, they always find a way to contaminate your food. It does not matter if you use flash-freezing techniques to preserve your salmon. There could still be some bacteria in the product.

Per reports from the FDA, salmon is a known source of parasites. Some common parasites you will find include helminths. You will typically find these tapeworms in finfish like salmon. Infections from these parasites could cause diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, and unintended weight loss.

Hence, it is best to avoid raw salmon if it does not come from a safe, known source.

Salmon harbor more than just parasites. You will also find other pathogens, like bacteria. Salmonella is one of the notorious organisms known to invade salmon. This organism causes food poisoning and may be pretty severe if improperly handled.

However, Salmonella is not the only organism you can find in salmon. Other organisms, like Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio, Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium botulinum, Escherichia coli, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, and others, tend to cause infections.

    • Organic Pollutants

Another risk you could face with both farmed and wild salmon is organic pollution. There is a slight chance that your salmon could have small elements of POPs (persistent organic pollutants).

These POPs could be manufacturing chemicals or pesticides. It is common to find these POPs in seafood. Since salmon is another seafood, it is pretty common to find these POPs.

Exposure to POPs may cause cancer, immune disorders, congenital anomalies, and other health problems.

It is essential to note that, though there are risks with trace elements, you will feel the highest adverse effects in salmon with higher exposure to POPs. Hence, the trace amounts found in your salmon may not cause so much harm to your health.

How To Identify Bad Salmon?

It is easy to determine if salmon is good or bad. While salmon is naturally good, eating bad salmon hurts your experience.

Instead of eating bad salmon, you could check for good salmon to reduce the risk of infection. It would help if you considered these few signs for picking the best salmon for you:

    • Smell

You need to ensure that your salmon has a fishy smell. Unlike other foods, this fishy smell is essential to know if you have picked good Salmon. Also, salmon does not have a strong fishy smell – just enough to let you know if it is still fresh or not. Ensure that your salmon does not smell ammonia-like or musky. Additionally, do not pick Salmon with hair in it. Avoid salmon with a strong fishy smell. The smell means your salmon may have gone bad.

    • Color

Raw salmon has a reddish color and no pink hue unless cooked. Avoid gray-skinned salmon because it means the product has gone bad. Also, do not buy salmon with a milky, slimy residue. Mold and dark spots are also some other things you should avoid when picking out your salmon.

How To Store Your Raw Salmon?

While you could get the best salmon from the fish market, storing it wrong could make your salmon go bad. If you want to avoid gut problems, it is best to store your salmon correctly. Regarding salmon, the storage temperature remains the most critical factor. You can store your salmon in a refrigerator at temperatures under four degrees Celsius. Additionally, ensure to eat your salmon within one or two days after storing it.

First, you must store the salmon in a freezer/vacuum-sealed bag and freeze it in your refrigerator. You can eat your salmon a few days later if it is frozen. Frozen salmon can last three months without spoiling. However, it would help to store your salmon to enjoy the product adequately.

To Sum Up: Does Choice Matter In Eating Raw Salmon?

Raw salmon has several health benefits you can leverage. You can eat raw salmon if you buy it from the best stores.

However, eating raw salmon from unknown sources could cause more harm. Most people wonder if they can eat raw Salmon cured. Ensure that you pick the best salmon from known sources to prevent contamination.

Once you have your salmon, store it properly to avoid spoilage. You must store it in the refrigerator at under four degrees Celsius if you want to eat it within a day or two. However, you must seal the salmon in a bag and freeze it if you’re going to eat it within two to three months.

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