LIFESTYLE NEWS - Whether you’re eating Latin America’s Ceviche, Japan’s Sashimi, Hawaii’s Poke, or South East Asia’s Koi Pla – there’s no shortage of restaurants serving up some sort of raw fish dish on their menus these days.
Although seafood is a delicious goldmine of essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and protein, health experts have raised the alarm about consuming uncooked seafood.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s something quite show-offish and trendy about eating raw fish with chopsticks in a busy restaurant while other not-so-adventurous diners opt for wok-fried noodles with a wonton soup starter – but where does one toe the line on chugging down uncooked fish?
New York-based culinary nutritionist Jackie Newgent, on behalf of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says major types of food poisoning that can result from eating raw or undercooked fish and shellfish include salmonella and vibrio vulnificus (a bacterium that lives in warm seawater).
“For raw fish connoisseurs, especially raw oyster lovers, you specifically need to know about the risk for vibrio infections,” warned Newgent.
She advises that neither hot sauce nor alcohol kills bacteria – despite popular myth. “The best rule of thumb is to follow good food safety practices and properly cook all seafood.”
Newgent says one other safety tip of interest, if you do decide to eat raw fish, is to choose fish that has been previously frozen. That’s because freezing will kill any potential parasites present. Unfortunately, freezing doesn’t kill every harmful organism.
If, like me, you have an adventurous palate and will try anything on a plate, you may want to consider the following when consuming raw or undercooked fish and shellfish:
- Ensure finned feast is from a trusted restaurant or market.
- Check if they use fresh, high-quality ingredients and follow proper food safety practices.
- At home, store raw and cooked seafood separately.
- Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards and utensils.
- DO NOT eat raw seafood if you are pregnant, immune compromised, an infant or child, or an elderly person.
The bottom line is that, while it may taste good or look trendy, eating raw fish has been shown to increase your chances of bacterial infection, food poisoning or worse. So the next time you pass by a R95 eat-all-you-can sushi special … think before you tuck in.