March 28, 2023

Anisaquiosis (and more): new UP study warns of risks from eating raw fish

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Eating fish is a healthy habit, but it can have consequences for human health, specifically due to the risk of contamination by parasites if the fish is eaten raw or undercooked.

A team consisting of researchers from the Laboratory of Animal Pathology of the Interdisciplinary Center for Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR) and the Department of Biology of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto (FCUP), recently published an article in the scientific journal food controlpublished by ELSEVIER, in which it notifies of the risks associated with eating raw fish.

Currently, Portugal is still one of the largest consumers of fish in the world, with an average annual consumption of 60 kg per inhabitant, compared to an average of 27 kg per inhabitant in the European Union.

However, this healthy habit may have health consequences human, especially risk of parasite infection whether the fish is consumed raw or uncooked.

THE inequality is an example of a disease caused by eating raw fish. It is caused by the parasite Anisakisit is more common in Asian countries, particularly Japan, and in the fishing communities of Europe and South America.

The most common clinical manifestations are gastric disorders caused by infection with the larva or allergic reactions to chemicals released by the parasite in the fish.

“It is very important to know better the state of the infection Anisakis of the Portuguese commercial fish, where unfortunately until now not much has been invested in its financing”, he points out. Maria João Santoshead of the animal pathology research group at CIIMAR and one of the three authors of the paper.

The FCUP researcher also warns that “the Grilled fish, if not cooked properly, can also be dangerous.” In this sense, “it will always be best to bet on contamination prevention methods and always freeze fish eaten raw for the necessary time.”

Photo: Maria Joao Santos

The Anisakis parasite is responsible for anisakiosis, a disease caused by eating raw fish.

Recommendations for eating raw fish

In the five types of fish consumed the most raw in Portugal are salmon, tuna, cod, haddock and sardines. And they all deserve special care, according to U.Porto researchers

For those who appreciate sushi, sashimi or marinated fish, there are some precautions that must be taken to avoid infections, namely freezing at -20ºC for 24 hours before consumption. If applied correctly, this method can kill the parasite, although it does not avoid the problem of allergens.

THE salmon, for examplebeing farmed fish it won’t have these worms but if it’s a wild fish they can be highly parasitized. In this case, it should be frozen before eating raw.

In case that codsalting is also a method of preventing worms, so it will be safe to eat properly salted cod.

THE cod it is highly infested and must always be frozen. Sardines, on the other hand, have shown low levels of contamination, while information on the status of tuna is lacking.

Given the volume and types of raw fish consumed in Portugal, the imbalance still represents limited risk to the Portuguese population.

However, infections are on the rise with the increase in consumption in recent years, and communication about this risk is becoming increasingly necessary among the Portuguese population.

Thus, the study draws attention to the need to focus on publicizing the problems associated with eating raw fish to the general public and informing consumers about taking care to freeze all fish eaten raw or uncooked.

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