Can You Eat Salmon Raw?

Salmon is considered to be an “anadromous” fish as they can live in both saltwater and freshwater habitats.

Can You Eat Salmon Raw?

Known for being an oily fish, salmon is filled with protein and omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for protecting our health.

They help our hearts, brain processes and thyroid functions. Apart from that, salmon is super tasty! 

If you’ve ever had sushi before, you’ll know that salmon is served raw (Find out Is Sushi Cooked Here). There are actually dishes from across the globe that use raw salmon in them.

You might have questioned whether it’s safe for us to eat salmon raw. We’re going to break the questions down in this article. 

Can I Eat Salmon Raw?

Essentially, yes you can. We are lucky that unless we catch our own salmon, grocery stores and food production companies have supplied our shelves with fresh produce that is safe to eat.

Strict health and safety laws and food hygiene regulations must be adhered to when it comes to food, so this should put your mind at ease. 

Those that eat raw salmon regularly are probably aware of these issues and we just mention the risks here as a precaution to anyone who is a little unsure and maybe hasn’t tried raw fish before. 

Can Everyone Eat It?

Despite the safety precautions taken, there are still some risks of contaminants making their way into the salmon. It’s unlikely, but we can’t ignore it.

Certain groups of people are more vulnerable if they are exposed to tainted salmon such as pregnant ladies, children, older adults, those with any long-term diseases and so on. 

As people that fall into these categories have compromised or under-developed immune systems the dangers of food poisoning can be extreme and even fatal.

To an average person, food poisoning is little more than an annoyance and a day off work. 

Are There Dangers Of Eating Raw Salmon?

Although eating raw salmon can be safe, it still is an animal protein and needs to be treated as such.

All animal products can attract bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms to breed on them.

When buying salmon in a grocery store, fishmonger or restaurant it should be free from contaminants, but as with anything you can’t always guarantee this.

Where Do The Contaminants Come From?

Regardless of how well producers and food staff follow the health and safety laws, parasites, bacteria and viruses can still find a way into our food as they are alive.

The environments that the fish live in can be a cause of contamination. The FDA lists salmon as a known source of parasites such as helminths. 

The scientific name for this is Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense, easy right? These are tapeworms that can be found on all types of fish with fins like salmon.

If you’re unlucky enough to get an infection from these parasites you can expect to develop nausea, diarrhea, unintended weight loss and abdominal pain. 

Salmonella is probably the number one bacteria we are warned about at school, at work and at home.

This is a notorious cause of food poisoning and is a risk associated with contaminated salmon products. The list goes on.  

In other instances, the improper handling of the food is the cause of the fish harbouring the contaminants. Maintaining the freshness of the fish is essential for taste and to avoid contaminants. 

How To Tell If Salmon Is Safe To Eat

Can You Eat Salmon Raw?

If you’ve purchased some salmon, got it home and are now wondering whether it’s fresh there are a few ways to tell. 

Check Appearance And Color 

If the fish is free from brown spots and doesn’t show any signs of bruising, darkening or discoloration you can consider it to be pretty fresh.

The flesh itself should be firm and free from any holes or cracks as well as feel smooth and shiny. 

Salmon is well known for its pink colored flesh, some believe that the pinker the salmon the better the quality and taste, however, this is actually in relation to the variety of salmon and where it comes from. 

What Does It Smell Like?

A huge indicator of the freshness of most foods is the smell. We’ve all opened the fridge at some point to be hit in the face with an awful smell.

Salmon is no different, so if you can smell more than a faint smell of fish and the sea you can assume it’s fresh and safe to eat. 

How To Store Raw Salmon

Learning how to properly store raw fish can help you make it last longer and avoid any unpleasantries. Fresh salmon can be kept in your refrigerator for up to two days.

Wrap the salmon tightly in plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. 

Salmon can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. When defrosting salmon, place it on a low refrigerator shelf overnight.

Putting the salmon on a plate is best to avoid anything that may drip onto other food. 

How To Avoid The Risks Of Raw Salmon

There are a number of precautions you can take to avoid contaminated salmon.

Buying from a reputable vendor, checking the product before eating, only eating raw fish that has been frozen, not leaving the fish out on the counter for too long and washing your hands are just some of the ways you can protect yourself and others. 

These may seem like common sense, but sometimes we just need a reminder.

Bottom Line

The answer to ‘is salmon safe to eat raw’ is yes. However, this should be taken with a pinch of salt as there are certain groups of people who are more vulnerable to the risks of pathogens and contaminants.

Always take care to ensure that your food is fresh and safe to eat. 

We hope you found this article informative and learned about the potential dangers of eating raw salmon.

Jeff Pratt
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