Last Updated on September 12, 2023 by Shari Mason
Raw salmon is becoming increasingly popular among health-conscious consumers, as it can be a great source of healthy proteins and omega-3 fatty acids.
But while many people are comfortable eating raw sushi-grade fish, some are hesitant to try store-bought salmon raw due to safety concerns.
So the question is – can you eat store-bought salmon raw? Read on to find out.
Is It Ok To Eat Store Bought Salmon Raw?
You can eat store-bought salmons raw, but with caution. Eating store-bought raw salmons risks your health, but it doesn’t mean it’s unsafe.
Eating raw salmon and other types of raw fish is a part of the culture among many people around the world. However it doesn’t mean that you can just eat it raw without taking any safety measures.
It’s important that you buy your fish from a reputable source that always has fresh supplies of fresh seafood products and follows strict guidelines for handling and storing their products.
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Things To Consider
Labels are used to identify the quality or grade of raw salmons in the markets. If you see one of these labels, then it’s a good sign that you can eat it raw. Here are the followings:
For Raw Consumption
Raw salmons labeled for ‘raw consumption’ are generally of good quality and are safe for raw consumption, as their label suggests. These raw salmons are usually flash-frozen after being caught or harvested.
Sushi or sashimi-grade salmons are also of the highest quality, and the store recommends them for these dishes.
But take note that there are no regulations or laws about this labeling. It’s up to the store to label their salmon as such.
So if you trust your store or if it’s reputable, then choosing this label might be the best option.
Farm-raised salmons are generally parasite-free (but not all) because they are raised in a controlled environment and fed with parasite-free diets.
Atlantic farm-raised salmons have a lower risk of parasites than wild-caught but are also more prone to contaminants, so be sure it’s also from a reputable farm.
Freezing raw salmon at -31 degrees Fahrenheit kills any parasite that lives on it.  So if you’re looking for salmon to consume raw, then looking for labels like “blast-frozen” or “flash-frozen” is a good idea.
Who Should Not Eat Store-Bought Salmon Raw?
Though raw salmon’s threat to our health is not that great, some people still should avoid eating it raw, such as pregnant women, children, and older adults.
“Life is too short not to eat raw, and it’s even shorter if you don’t.”-Marie Sarantakis, Lawyer
Eating it raw also increases its risks to people with a low immune system or people with other illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, organ transplant, and liver diseases.
Health Risks Of Eating Raw Store-Bought Salmon
Parasites in Raw Salmon
Salmon is a known source of some parasites that may harm our health. These parasites are more commonly found on wild-caught salmons but relatively low on farm-raised ones.
Helminths, the broad Japanese tapeworm, is the most commonly found parasites on raw salmons. Once infected, this parasite may cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and even anemia.
Viral & Bacterial Infection
Raw salmon may harbor bacteria and viruses like other meats and fish. This may already be present in raw salmons before being caught or due to improper handling and storage.
Some common bacteria and viruses include Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, and Vibrio. It’s important to know that you can reduce the risk of these deadly viruses and bacteria through proper handling and storage.
Chemical & Environmental Contaminants
Salmons and all other types of fish, including farmed and wild-raised, are prone to chemical and environmental contaminants.
These contaminants or persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may come from pesticides, industrial waste, flame retardants, and other pollutants.
Prolonged exposure to these contaminants may increase the risk of cancer, immune disorders, and reproductive malfunctions.
How can you tell if store-bought salmon has gone bad?
Store-bought salmon that has gone bad has a very foul odor or overly fishy smell accompanied by discoloration. Bad salmon usually turns grayish in color with some bruises. Additionally, if it feels slimy or sticky, it’s also a bad sign.
How do you clean store-bought salmon raw?
But if needed to remove scales and other debris, use cold and fresh water to rinse. It’s important to keep your raw salmon cold or frozen to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Can I use store-bought salmon for sushi?
Yes, many high-quality salmons, especially in reputable grocery stores and supermarkets, are good for making sushi.
Look for labels such as “For Raw Consumption,” “Sushi/Sashimi Grade,” “flash-frozen,” or those you deem fresh and safe, preferably from reputable stores.
The Bottom Line
Eating store-bought raw salmon poses little risk to our health, but that risk is greatly outweighed by its benefits, such as the nutrients it contains.
Raw salmons may contain parasites, bacteria, viruses, and other pollutants. But with proper storage and handling from the grocery store and to the consumer’s end, these threats are still within safety limits.
However, pregnant women, young children, older adults, and people with compromised immune system should avoid it.
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