Is Eating Raw Fish Safe

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Many people worry about eating raw fish, but before you swear off sushi forever, there are a few important things you need to understand.

Is Eating Raw Fish Safe?

Eating raw fish is safe if you are eating appropriate fish that are free of bacteria, viruses and heavy metals. Human beings have been eating raw fish for thousands of years, but the past century has also seen a major increase in pollution of marine environments, which can lead to contamination of fish populations.

While it is safe to eat some raw fish, and there are a number of health benefits in doing so, you must know what types of raw fish you can eat. For example, you can eat raw salmon and the types of fish that are found in sushi, but you shouldn’t eat raw largemouth bass, pollock, and haddock. You can get sick from eating raw fish, but raw fish can sometimes be healthier than cooked fish.

A whole fish on a wooden tray with peppercorn, thyme, half-cut cherry tomato, and assorted vegetables

Parasites are a concern when consumers eat raw or lightly preserved fish. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Benefits

If you are eating safely sourced and pathogen-free raw fish, it can have a number of health benefits, such as the following:

  • Eliminating fatigue
  • Increasing your overall intake of omega-3 fatty acids

When you cook fish, it can decrease the nutrient content, particularly when it comes to these anti-inflammatory fatty acids. The manner in which you eat raw fish, i.e., sushi, can also have various benefits, due to the mineral and nutrient quality of other ingredients.

Risks

There are some notable dangers of eating raw fish, which can be avoided if you only eat fish from trusted sources.

  • Complications with pregnancy (heavy metals)
  • Parasitic infections (liver flukes, tapeworms, roundworms)
  • Bacterial infections
  • Heavy metal toxicity (mercury)
  • A higher level of environmental pollutants

How to Minimize Risks of Eating Raw Fish?

If you want to minimize the risks associated with eating raw fish:

  • Closely inspect the fish before eating
  • Eat frozen fish
  • Buy refrigerated fish
  • Only eat fish that smells fresh
  • Don’t keep fish out for too long before eating
  • Only buy from trusted vendors that have good relationships with restaurants and trusted distributors
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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