Can You Eat Raw Shrimp?- Yes or No

Can You Eat Raw Shrimp?

Can You Eat Raw Shrimp? Very dangerous it contains Harbour Harmful Bacteria, Harbour Harmful Viruses, and Antibiotics Used In Shrimp Farming.

Shrimps are one of the world’s most widely consumed shellfish. Its fleshy abdomen and tail are edible to humans and have become a major source of delicacy for many people across various cultures around the world. They are famed to have a very delicious taste and have varying textures depending on the variety.

One of the reasons why they are largely consumed is because of the large portion of nutrients that are deposited in their body. Shrimp contains Carbohydrates, Fat (monounsaturated), Vitamins A and D, and minerals such as; Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, and Zinc. It is also a high source of protein and is considered healthy for its low level of saturated fats. They also have high levels of Omega-3s and have low levels of mercury.

In the United States, Shrimp is easily the most popularly consumed seafood. According to the New York Times, the consumption of shrimp per individual in the US is about 4.4 pounds per person per year and over 1.5 billion pounds consumed as a whole per year. Shrimp is gotten into the US market via two main ways; Wild-caught shrimp and farmed shrimp. Here it is boiled, broiled, baked, barbecued, Pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried, and in some cases eaten raw.

Eating shrimp raw is a practice in many cultures around the world. In China, Shrimp is sometimes eaten live with a liquor dip known as baijiu. Also, a Shrimp family species known as the Amaebi sweet Shrimp is generally believed to be enjoyed best when it is raw because cooking it can rob it of its sweetness. Japan also has a raw shrimp delicacy named Sashimi, which is made of raw shrimp.

However, concerns have been raised as to how safe it is for humans to eat raw Shrimp. Many health practitioners do not advise that shrimp be eaten raw because of a few factors.

Reasons Why Eating Raw Shrimp Is Dangerous

  1. They Harbour Harmful Bacteria 

There are harmful bacteria in raw Shrimp, which could cause food poisoning to those who eat them. Research by the Department of Microbiology, Samford University Bangladesh, revealed Salmonella, Vibrio Cholerae, Aeromonas, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus in samples of export quality frozen shrimps. If consumed, the bacteria in raw Shrimp can likely lead to food poisoning. This is because the bacteria mentioned above are responsible for 90% of food poisoning cases.  Symptoms of food poisoning from Shrimp include;

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

These symptoms may last up to seven days, and a healthy adult male may recover without any form of special treatment. However, people with underlying illnesses or a compromised immune system may find themselves in more serious conditions, which may lead to death. Hence it is advised that people with a weakened immune system avoid shellfish together.

  1. They Harbour Harmful Viruses

Bacteria are unfortunately not the only harmful substance found in raw Shrimp. A journal from the Genetic and breeding research center for cold water fishes, Iran. Reveals a lot of Shrimps are infected by more than one type of virus. Some of them include;

  • White-spot syndrome virus (WSSV)
  • Monodon baculovirus (MBV)
  • Yellow-head virus (YHV)
  • Hepantopancreatic parvovirus (HPV)
  • Related Australian lymphoid organ virus (LOV)
  • Gill associated virus (GAV)
  • Infectious hypodermal and hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHHNV)
  • Taura syndrome virus (TSV)
  • Mourilyan virus (MOV)
  • Laem Sing Virus (LSNV)
  • Baculovirus midgut gland necrosis virus (BMNV)
  • Monodon slow growth syndrome (MSGS)
  • Infectious myonecrosis virus (IMNV)
  • Macrobrachium rosenbergii nodavirus (MrNV)
  • Extra small virus (XSV)

According to the journal, more than 15 viruses have been reported to infect Shrimps. Even though they are generally not seen as a threat to human health, they cause health issues to Shrimps. Consumers definitely want to be eating only healthy shrimp; hence, it is advised that shrimp be properly cooked so that bacteria and viruses present in the shrimp can die out during the cooking process. 

  1. They Contain Antibiotics Used In Shrimp Farming.

In the United States, Shrimp is sourced via wild-caught and farmed shrimps. Out of 100%, 10% are wild-caught, while the remaining 90% are farmed shrimps. However, a large portion of farmed shrimps are not from shrimp farms in the USA but largely imported from Southeast Asian countries. Most of these countries have Shrimp farming and a poverty-based production system and most likely abuse antibiotics in their shrimp farms.  Many shrimp farmers use antibiotics on their shrimp without any prescription and often put an unhealthy amount due to easy access to antibiotics in these areas and little to no government regulation on such matters. 

Two main issues that arise from the abuse of antibiotics on shrimp farms are antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic residue. According to the aquaculture alliance, farmers end up using antibiotics meant for human disease outbreaks on their shrimps when they develop resistance to regular antibiotics. The abuse of antibiotics leads to harvested shrimps having the residue of antibiotics, which could vary from non-metabolized antibiotics to metabolic by-products.

In the United States, the FDA has completely struck out the use of antibiotics in shrimp aquaculture. Some other countries, however, permit the sale of Shrimp farmed with antibiotics. According to the World Health Organisation, antibiotics are a huge threat to global health, food security, and development.

According to the shrimp alliance, shrimp farmed with antibiotics should be avoided because they could cause cancer and aplastic anemia. According to the shrimp alliance, a large majority of the shrimp that gets shipped into the United States are from countries that have been flagged as red zones for abuse of antibiotics in aquafarming. Imported shrimp tested by the FDA shows that 12.2% are found to contain banned antibiotics, and according to the United States Government Accountability Office report of 2015, India is a big offender who accounts for more than half of all shrimp imports rejected due to antibiotic residue as well as bacterial infections. Ironically they are the largest supplier of shrimp to the United States.

The reasons above are why the FDA strongly discourages anyone from eating Shrimp raw and advises that they be well cooked before consumed.

Can You Eat Raw Shrimp?- Yes or No

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