Can you eat raw shrimp has been question for a lot of American citizens. First, shrimps are crustaceans with hard translucent shells ranging from brown to grey. They are one of the world’s most consumed shellfish. They are said to be very delicious and so have become a major delicacy for many people across the world.
Shrimps are rich in carbohydrates, fat, vitamins (A & D), minerals (calcium, iron magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc) omega-3 and proteins. With how famous it has become among diverse cultures, people have come up with several ways to prepare shrimp and some people prefer to have their shrimp raw.
CAN YOU EAT RAW SHRIMP?
Shrimp is very nutritious and yes, people do eat it raw, however, it is not recommended health-wise that you do so as it may increase your risk of food poisoning.
In different countries and cultures, raw shrimps are eaten and to some even, the liquid inside their head is considered a delicacy. In Japan, a famous dish known as Sashimi is made with raw shrimps, while in China, shrimps are soaked in a strong liquor called baijiu and eaten raw. Due to the high risk of getting food poisoning, it is considered unsafe to eat shrimp raw.
DANGERS OF EATING SHRIMP RAW
Although shrimps are very nutritious, there are a lot of dangers posed to your health when you eat them raw. Before answering the question “Can you eat raw shrimp” , here are few factors that you should consider and know about shrimp when you next think of eating raw shrimp.
1. THEY HARBOUR HARMFUL BACTERIA: There are about 70 different species of bacteria found in raw shrimps, with 12-15 of them being generally identified as disease-causing agents in people.
Research has shown that Vibrio, Cholerae, Salmonella, Aeromonas, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus were found in samples of frozen shrimps.
These mentioned bacteria are responsible for 90% of reported food poisoning cases. Shrimps are mostly infected with Vibrio bacteria and this causes a variety of illnesses with symptoms such as:
Vomiting, nausea,headache, fever and diarrhea. Now, if you must eat raw shrimps, you at least know the harmful bacteria found in them and the immense health risks they can cause.
2. THEY HARBOUR HARMFUL VIRUSES : Not only will you find harmful bacteria in raw shrimps, but you can also find more than one harmful viruses such as: Yellow head virus, taura syndrome virus, Gill associated virus, monodon slow growth syndrome and many more.
However, these viruses do not pose threat directly to human health but cause health issues to the shrimps. Regardless, you only want to eat healthy foods, for whatever is not healthy cannot be good for your health.
3. LIFE-THREATENING DANGERS : Individuals with weaker or underdeveloped immune systems such as pregnant women, young children, newborns, elderlies, and those with pre-existing injuries or diseases, are more susceptible to diseases caused by bacteria present in raw shrimp, due to their weakened ability to fight off the bacteria. In the United States, 90 percent of shrimp farmers use an abusive amount of antibiotics to farm for shrimps.
This abuse of antibiotics leads to the harvested shrimps having residual antibiotics and when eaten raw, could cause cancer and aplastic anemia. These are the dangers you are likely to face when you eat raw shrimp.
HOW TO SAFELY PREPARE SHRIMPS
Since we have ruled out eating shrimp raw because of the health implication it poses, let’s take a look at how to prepare your shrimp for safety consumption. The first step to preparing shrimp safely is to ensure that while picking any from the market, you buy safe and healthy shrimps, as improper harvesting, handling, and storage technique can increase the risk of contamination.
To prepare, thoroughly wash your shrimp, as dirt may conceal bacteria, and although this doesn’t kill all the bacteria present in the shrimp, it may, however, reduce the growth of some. Cooking is the safest way you can prepare shrimp. Cooking the shrimp is the only sure way to ensure that bacteria from it, is completely eliminated.
You have to cook your shrimps thoroughly at a temperature of 145°F (63°C) until it turns from gray to pinkish. Thoroughly cooked shrimps should have a broken or opened shell.
HOW TO ENSURE THAT YOUR SHRIMP IS SAFE FOR CONSUMPTION
(1) Even after the shells of your shrimps have been broken, you should continue cooking for a few minutes as a safety measure.
(2) Also, shrimps have a specific internal temperature when they have been perfectly cooked, so you could use a thermometer to check.
(3) The temperature of properly cooked shrimp should read about 120°F when read with a thermometer, although this depends on the type of shrimp, as some could read 165°F when cooked properly.
(4) Another important thing to note when preparing your shrimp, to know if it is safe for consumption, is the colour change. If your shrimp is perfectly cooked, it should have a pinkish tint with a hint of crimson at the edges and an opaque white tone in the center.
Shrimp is a global delicacy, however, eating it raw poses several health risks as it contains many bacteria that can lead to food poisoning and some cases of life-threatening situations. This now answers the question ” Can you eat raw Shrimp”.
There are several ways you can prepare your shrimps, but cooking it thoroughly is the only assured way of killing these bacteria and making your shrimp safe for consumption.