Gourmet.com Article: Avoid Eating Fresh Raw Salmon


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
August 21, 2008

An article that debuted on Gourmet.com yesterday says to avoid eating raw salmon, unless previously frozen, to avoid contracting a tapeworm.

The article, written by seafood marketing specialist Jon Rowley of Seattle, details how the Diphyllobothrium latum tapeworm, carried by freshwater fish, can be transferred to humans and how it can be avoided.

"Raw salmon dishes - tartare, crudo, sushi, marinated and cured salmon - are growing in popularity. But unless that fish has been frozen first, it would be wise to pass," writes Rowley. "That's because a tiny tapeworm larva may lurk in the raw salmon flesh, just waiting for you to eat it so that it can take up residence in your digestive tract."

Unless a tapeworm-infested fish is cooked or frozen to minus-31 degrees F - each of which can kill the parasite larvae - it can grow to maturity in the host's intestines, Rowley writes.

Tapeworms are also "fairly common" in wild salmon, Rowley quotes Tammy Burton, a fish pathologist with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, as saying. The levels of infestation fluctuate seasonally and from year to year, she adds. A source with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta told Rowley there is "no systematic reporting of cases in the [United States]."

A tapeworm infection, known as diphyllobothriasis, is not life threatening, but can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fatigue and nausea. A tapeworm, Rowley writes, "can grow up to 30 feet long and live for decades, sometimes causing anemia from [vitamin] B12 depletion."

Earlier this week, a man filed a lawsuit against Chicago restaurant Shaw's Crab House and its parent company Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises for allegedly serving him raw salmon from which he contracted a tapeworm. The man, who seeks $100,000 in damages, claims the restaurant staff was negligent in the 2006 incident; the restaurant denies any connection with the man's illness.

The Gourmet.com article was submitted just before the Shaw's story broke this Monday. Rowley, who most recently helped form a king salmon marketing campaign for Kwik'pak Fisheries of Anchorage, Alaska, says he added that information to the article soon thereafter.

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