The Disturbing Reason You'll Want to Avoid Alaskan Salmon at All Costs

Posted January 16, 2017

Americans who love to eat raw or undercooked fish may now have higher risk of getting an infection from parasites as researchers discovered Japanese broad tapeworm in wild pink salmon caught in Alaska. Per the Food Safety Magazine, experts believe the Japanese tapeworm has always been in salmon near the Pacific coast.

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The main intent of the study, researchers wrote, was "to alert parasitologists and medical doctors about the potential danger of human infection with this long tapeworm resulting from consumption of infected salmon imported (on ice) from the Pacific coast of North America and elsewhere". Based on the findings, four species of Pacific salmon are now known to be carriers of the Japanese tapeworm infection namely the chum salmon, pink salmon, masu salmon, and sockeye salmon. More precisely, most of the infections occurring in Russia, South Korea, and Japan were caused by the Japanese broad tapeworm.

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Researchers discovered the larva of a Japanese tapeworm in salmon from Hope, AK.

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That's the latest warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the study's lead author, Roman Kuchta, massive infection, in rare cases can cause an intestinal obstruction or gallbladder inflammation. This Japanese tapeworm was a parasite previously believed to only infect fish located in or near Asia. "More severe cases may require specialized consultations and complementary analyses, which are costly". But D. latum and related species (including the Japanese tapeworm) can grow up to 30 feet long, according to the CDC. The fish represented in the study were wild, and, as such, "they're going to have parasites, they're out in nature". Though the study suggests that infections by Japanese tapeworm may be much more common in the U.S. than anticipated, there's still "no evidence at all about how common it is", Schaffner said. "We do things that we haven't done before", Schaffner said. That means salmon from the Pacific Ocean coasts in both Asia and America could be risky to people who eat it raw, such as in sushi and sashimi. Agriculture Department. Proper freezing of salmon will kill parasites, too - to 4 degrees below zero for a duration of at least seven days, per CDC guidelines, or frozen solid at 31 below for 15 hours.