We’ve all heard of sushi right? It’s a tasty treat that people really enjoy and in essence, it’s raw fish. So, if you can eat raw fish at sushi restaurants like that – surely you can eat raw salmon… right?
Well, maybe not. Many animals enjoy eating raw salmon like bears, sharks, cats and crocodiles – along with a whole host of others – but their anatomy is vastly different from ours. Could it be unsafe?
This article looks at the general safety of eating raw salmon, including what could happen if things go wrong.
So, take a seat and get comfortable. Let’s get right into it!
Raw Salmon: The Basics
The short answer is yes, you can eat raw salmon, but there are specific things to think about first. When it comes to sushi, they don’t simply net a random fish and cut them up for you.
There’s a stringent analysis of the fish to make it sushi-grade.
Now, sushi-grade isn’t exactly clear as to what it is. There’s no legal specifications with it but any product that has the words sushi-grade on it, the chances are it will be fine to consume.
When it comes to picking up a salmon in a grocery store, you can eat them raw if they have been previously frozen.
The reason for this is that if a salmon has not been previously frozen, it can have living parasites present on and in it – which can lead to a potentially deadly food poisoning.
The other thing to remember is, salmon is quite a broad term when it comes to fish. There are all different types of salmon like Alaskan salmon, sock-eye salmon and Atlantic salmon.
Buying Raw Salmon From The Grocery Store
Like with any food product, you’ll want to get the freshest fish possible and scouring the fish market for this in grocery stores is the best way to do this.
Some better grocery stores will have sushi-grade or sashimi-grade salmon but in reality, these labels don’t guarantee safety. Most grocery stores will avoid using these labels in case someone gets sick from the fish.
However, there’s nothing legally speaking that prevents anyone from labeling their fish with these stickers. So for some consumers, they believe these labels to be meaningless.
Having said that, these labels are normally used by the better grocery stores and these are usually a sign of confidence in their product.
It’s worth noting here though, that although we’ve mentioned how you can pick up a raw salmon safely – the method does not work for all frozen fish.
Cod for example can be frozen but should not be eaten raw anyway, because some bacteria might be killed – but others might remain present.
Let’s talk about two of the most popular stores, Costco and Walmart. Both of these stores sell salmon, but should you buy them and eat them raw?
Probably not. Although Costco does have labels that you can be confident with, and they treat their fish correctly by freezing them first – there is very little in the way of a guarantee that you’ll be okay.
Walmart is worse for this though. Although a reputable store, buying a salmon to eat raw from here could be problematic.
Their method is to sell products for a cheaper price rather than a better quality, and there’s nothing wrong with that – unless it is raw food.
If you want the best possible chance to eat a raw salmon, you’d be better off going to a reputable fishmonger and getting fresh fish. They’ll almost certainly have sourced and prepared the salmon correctly prior to your purchase.
Possible Problems If You Eat Raw Salmon
Many people do eat raw salmon and enjoy it that way, but if it isn’t done in the best and most safe way – you could almost certainly get sick.
If raw salmon has not been frozen previously, there is a high chance it has parasites present on and in it. It may also have harmful bacteria present on and in it.
What this means for you is that by consuming these parasites or bacteria, you’ll get food poisoning.
If you do unfortunately get food poisoning from a raw salmon, you can expect the following symptoms:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Muscle pains and aches
You may also be at risk for Japanese broad fish tapeworms which are known to eat away at your insides and make you really sick with serious pains.
The only way to ensure you’re not going to get sick by eating salmon is by cooking it to a safe temperature. For salmon, you’re looking at an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you are freezing salmon, the temperature needs to be at minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe to kill off bacteria and this needs to be frozen for at least two days.
When you come around to cooking and consuming your salmon, always ensure you are using clean utensils and cooking implements.
Although you might have made the salmon safe to consume, you might not have safe utensils which can be as bad.
So, guarantee your chances of being okay by cleaning all of your cooking and eating tools thoroughly before use.
Does The Term Sashimi-Grade Mean Anything?
Both sushi and sashimi grades might look promising on the surface, as we mentioned – they are in essence meaningless, although they’re normally used primarily by more reputable stores.
Basically, it’s more of a marketing term, and it certainly works.
Should I Eat Raw Salmon?
It’s up to you! But we would urge people to eat thoroughly cooked salmon to curtail any chances of getting seriously ill from food poisoning.
The Bottom Line
You can eat raw salmon if it has been previously frozen and comes from a reputable source. However, if you want to be sure that you will not get sick – cook your salmon!