Can You Eat Raw Salmon from Costco?

Salmon is said to be one of the most nutritious foods available. In recent times, it has become an increasingly popular fish as people become more health-conscious and are willing to adopt healthy options in terms of diet and exercise, to boost their overall wellbeing. Apart from the fact that it is delicious, salmon is also loaded with a plethora of nutrients beneficial to the health. 

Raw salmon is a common ingredient in many recipes; hence, it is readily available in Costco and almost every grocery store. Fish used to be pretty much cooked before being eaten, but since raw salmon now has a place in both local and international cuisine, some people still have reservations as to whether or not to eat raw salmon from Costco. 

Can you eat raw salmon from Costco?

Yes, you can eat raw salmon from Costco, provided you buy fresh frozen (flash-frozen) farm-raised salmon with the tag “farmed Atlantic salmon” or “farmed Alaskan salmon”. This is because farm-raised salmon have a lower risk for parasites than wild-caught salmon. While wild-caught salmon tastes better, farmed salmon is raised on feed pellets which prevents them from eating infected prey. Please note that raw salmon may contain parasites, bacteria, and other toxins that can be harmful (depending on how it is handled), so you should only eat raw salmon that has been stored and prepared properly.

Can you eat Atlantic salmon raw? 

Yes, you can. Atlantic salmon is safe to eat raw, so far it is farm-raised and has been handled and stored properly.

Types of salmon you can eat raw

Atlantic salmon, Alaskan salmon, and other commonly filleted salmons for raw food can be eaten raw. Other types of salmon that you can eat raw include silver salmon, chum salmon, and king salmon. As long as they are farm-raised, properly handled, and stored, these types of salmon can be eaten without cooking.

What happens if I eat raw salmon?

Nothing terrible will happen to you IF you eat farmed salmon which was properly handled and stored as required. Raw salmon is relatively safe to eat. Wild salmon, however, poses a greater risk to your health if eaten raw. This is because, wild salmon, unlike farmed salmon, feeds on different prey, some of which may have been infected. This is a potential risk to the consumer of such fish.

Also, salmon that was not properly handled or stored can cause food-borne illnesses if you eat it. Immunocompromised individuals such as HIV patients may suffer foodborne illnesses if they eat raw salmon.

Does Costco salmon have worms?

Although there have been a few reported cases of worms in salmon purchased at Costco, it is quite rare for Costco salmon to have worms. This is because fish used for sushi or meant to be eaten raw is usually flash frozen immediately after being caught or harvested. Freezing provides an effective means of inactivating parasites in raw fish, and there are recommendations for the freezing of fish intended to be consumed raw. Besides, Good Aquaculture Practices in farmed fish have the potential to reduce and eliminate pathogenic loads in farm-raised salmon.

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Risks of eating raw salmon

Raw salmon is a popular dish, particularly in sushi and sashimi. However, consuming raw salmon poses several risks due to the presence of parasites and bacteria commonly found in raw fish. Additionally, eating contaminated raw salmon can have significant health consequences. In this section, we will discuss the risks associated with consuming raw salmon and how to reduce these risks through preparation and handling.

Parasites and bacteria commonly found in raw salmon

Raw salmon can harbor several types of parasites and bacteria that can be harmful to human health. One of the most common parasites found in raw salmon is the Anisakis worm. This worm can cause an allergic reaction, known as anisakiasis, which can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other parasites that can be present in raw salmon include tapeworms and flukes, which can cause similar symptoms.

In addition to parasites, raw salmon can also contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and Vibrio. These bacteria can cause food poisoning, which can lead to symptoms such as fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. While cooking salmon can kill these bacteria, consuming raw salmon increases the risk of infection.

Health risks associated with consuming raw salmon

Consuming contaminated raw salmon can have several health consequences, particularly for vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, young children, and the elderly. Food poisoning from bacteria such as Salmonella and Vibrio can lead to dehydration, hospitalization, and even death in severe cases. In addition to short-term health consequences, consuming raw salmon can also have long-term health effects. For example, research has linked the consumption of raw or undercooked fish to liver fluke infections, which can lead to liver cancer.

How to reduce risks through preparation and handling

While consuming raw salmon poses risks, these risks can be reduced through proper preparation and handling techniques. For example, freezing raw salmon can kill parasites such as Anisakis. The US Food and Drug Administration recommends freezing raw fish for at least 7 days at -4°F (-20°C) to kill any parasites. Proper handling and preparation of raw salmon can also reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. This includes washing hands and utensils thoroughly, avoiding cross-contamination with other foods, and storing raw salmon at the appropriate temperature.

Safety measures taken by Costco

Costco is a popular retailer known for its cost-effective and high-quality products, including raw salmon. In this section, we will discuss the safety measures taken by Costco to ensure the safety of its raw salmon.

Is Costco salmon sashimi grade?

It is important to note that “sashimi grade” is a term that is not regulated by any official agency, and therefore, there is no strict definition of what constitutes sashimi grade salmon. However, in general, “sashimi grade” refers to high-quality fish that has been handled and prepared in a way that makes it safe to eat raw.

While Costco does not market their salmon as “sashimi grade,” their fresh salmon is often used for raw consumption and is considered to be of high quality. Costco follows strict handling and preparation procedures to ensure the safety of their products, which includes freezing the salmon to kill any parasites that may be present.

In addition, Costco has a reputation for sourcing their seafood from reputable suppliers and conducting rigorous quality control checks, which further supports the quality of their salmon.

Ultimately, while Costco does not specifically market their salmon as “sashimi grade,” their fresh salmon is generally considered to be of high quality and safe for raw consumption. However, it is important to always handle and prepare raw salmon properly to minimize any potential risks associated with consuming raw fish.

Overview of Costco’s handling and preparation of raw salmon

Costco sources its raw salmon from reputable suppliers and follows strict handling and preparation procedures to ensure the safety of its products. Upon receipt of the salmon, Costco inspects each shipment to ensure that it meets its quality standards. After inspection, the salmon is stored in a temperature-controlled environment to prevent bacterial growth.

Before it is sold, Costco’s raw salmon is filleted and packaged in a sterile environment to prevent contamination. Additionally, the salmon is frozen to kill any parasites that may be present. This freezing process follows the FDA’s recommended guidelines for parasite control.

Quality control measures in place to reduce risks of illness

Costco has a robust quality control program in place to ensure the safety of its products, including its raw salmon. This program includes regular testing of the salmon for bacterial contamination and parasites. Costco also conducts internal audits to ensure that its handling and preparation procedures are followed consistently and effectively.

In addition to internal audits, Costco’s suppliers are subject to third-party audits to ensure that they meet Costco’s high standards for safety and quality. These audits are conducted by independent organizations and are designed to ensure that suppliers are following best practices for handling and preparing raw salmon.

Inspections and regulations governing raw salmon sold by Costco

Costco is subject to several regulations governing the sale of raw salmon. The FDA regulates the sale of seafood, including raw salmon, and sets strict guidelines for handling and preparation. These guidelines include requirements for freezing, labeling, and storage.

In addition to FDA regulations, Costco is subject to inspections by state and local health departments. These inspections ensure that Costco’s handling and preparation procedures meet regulatory standards and that its products are safe for consumption.

How to make salmon safe to eat raw

If you love raw salmon dishes, there are some precautions you must take to make your salmon safe to eat raw. 

  1. Ensure you buy your salmon from trusted grocery stores, cold rooms, and restaurants where you are sure that your fish has been handled and stored properly.
  2. Make sure to wash your hands and clean your kitchen utensils and food preparation surfaces to avoid cross-contamination.
  3. Never buy salmon that has been left out for a long time, instead, only buy salmon that is refrigerated or kept in ice. At home, keep your fish in the refrigerator or freezer; do not leave it out for more than 2 hours.
  4. Always inspect your salmon at the point of purchase. A visual inspection will help you to detect any odd color, texture, or appearance. Make sure to observe the smell also.

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Consumer responsibility in handling and preparing raw salmon

Consumers play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of their food, including raw salmon. In this section, we will discuss the responsibilities of consumers in handling and preparing raw salmon and provide tips for doing so safely.

Tips for safe handling and preparation of raw salmon

Proper handling and preparation of raw salmon can help reduce the risk of contamination and illness. The following tips can help ensure that raw salmon is handled and prepared safely:

  1. Thaw salmon in the refrigerator or under cold running water, not at room temperature.
  2. Use a separate cutting board and knife for raw salmon to avoid cross-contamination with other foods.
  3. Wash hands and utensils thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling raw salmon.
  4. Cook or consume raw salmon within two days of purchase.
  5. Discard any raw salmon that has an off odor or appears slimy.

Importance of understanding risks and taking precautions

Consumers should be aware of the risks associated with consuming raw salmon and take appropriate precautions to reduce these risks. This includes understanding the risks of bacterial and parasitic contamination and following best practices for handling and preparing raw salmon.

Consumers should also be aware of their own health status and any pre-existing conditions that may increase their risk of illness from consuming raw salmon. Pregnant women, young children, and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of foodborne illness and should take extra precautions.

Recommendations for consuming raw salmon safely

Consumers who choose to consume raw salmon should take steps to reduce their risk of illness. These steps include:

  1. Ensure that the salmon has been frozen for parasite control before consuming.
  2. Purchase raw salmon from a reputable source, such as Costco, that follows strict handling and preparation procedures.
  3. Avoid consuming raw salmon if you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system, or are at high risk of foodborne illness.
  4. If you are unsure about the safety of raw salmon, consider cooking it to reduce the risk of illness.

Who should not eat raw salmon?

Raw salmon can pose a huge risk for the following set of people; hence, they should avoid eating it.

  1. The elderly
  2. Young children
  3. Pregnant women
  4. HIV patients
  5. The diabetic
  6. People with a weak or compromised immune system

Are you planning to make your salmon sashimi at home, and you were not sure if you can eat raw salmon from Costco? Well, I’m glad I have been able to allay your fear. Get your ingredients ready and make some delicious salmon sashimi – you’re good to go! Most importantly, whether you eat raw salmon from Costco or your favorite restaurant down the road, just make sure to choose high-quality, properly handled, and prepared salmon.

By Luong Tan

Luong Tan, the creative and passionate founder of Bourbono, is a multi-talented individual with a deep love for the culinary arts. An accomplished food blogger, cookbook author, and former Ambassador of US cuisine in Vietnam (2015-2016), Luong has been on a mission to share his appreciation for food with the world.

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