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Side Effects From Eating Raw Fish

Though there are many practical reasons, people should cook fish before eating them, eating raw fish has been common since the human race began. Again, the question arises whether we should continue to eat raw fish. As we know, there are many food-borne diseases that people face in this world. It is always best that we cook every food item enough to match the appropriate internal temperature. If you are a very healthy person, eating raw fish won’t pose serious health risks. But, if your body is not in the best condition, eating raw fish could turn out to be a severe health hazard.

Types Of Dishes Having Raw Fish

It is common knowledge that cooking kills any parasites or bacteria present in food, thus eliminating diseases. But there are a lot of raw fish diseases like sushi and sashimi that people love internationally. Some people like the clean flavor and texture of raw fish; sushi is the most popular dish in Japan. Let us explore some of the dishes that incorporate raw fish.


A seafood dish very popular in Latin America is ceviche. It generally is made up of raw fish cured in lime or lemon juice.


Sushi is an umbrella term for a whole category of Japanese dishes, which is cooked rice seasoned with vinegar and other ingredients such as raw fish. 


Sashimi is yet another Japanese dish made up of raw fish or finely sliced meat.


Poke is a salad originating in Hawaii traditionally served with vegetables mixed with chunks of seasoned raw fish.


This is an Italian dish that generally consists of pounded or finely sliced raw beef. The plate can be customized and consists of other types of meats or fish too.

Koi Pla

This dish has its origin in South East Asia. It consists of raw fish that has been finely chopped and mixed with various ingredients such as lime juice, garlic, fish sauce, herbs, vegetables, and chilis.


Gravlax is a Nordic dish that is raw salmon. The salmon is cured with dill, salt, and sugar. This dish also comes with mustard sauce.

Soused Herring

This is a ubiquitous dish in the Netherlands and is marinated raw herring.

Infections Or Ailments That You Could Get From Eating Raw Fish

Parasitic Infections

A parasite can be referred to as any being that gets its nutrients from another living organism, the host. This plant or animal parasite does not provide any benefits to the host. Some parasites do not cause any acute symptoms that are easily recognizable. Yet, many others could cause significant harm over an extended period. Parasitic infections are mainly common in people living in tropical countries. Parasitic infections are typically from drinking infected water or food not adequately cooked.

Here is a list and overview of a few of the primary diseases caused by parasites transmitted from eating raw fish.


People who eat undercooked or raw fish from freshwater or the sea have a high risk of getting fish tapeworms. You could also get tapeworms if you eat sea fish that spawn in rivers having freshwater. These fish also include salmon. 

Fish tapeworms are known to be the most significant parasite to infect humans, and they can reach up to a length of 15 meters, that is, 49 feet. They may not cause any symptoms, but you could contract a disease called diphyllobothriasis. The signs that you will experience are mild fatigue, diarrhea or constipation, stomach discomfort, etc. You may also experience a decrease in your vitamin B12 levels.

Liver Flukes

They are a family of flatworms that cause a disease named opisthorchiasis. People from Asia, South America, Eastern Europe, and Africa can most commonly get this parasitic disease. They feed off the host’s blood and cause gallbladder inflammation, bile duct infection, enlarged liver, and even liver cancer. The leading cause of this disease is consuming raw fish.


These cause a disease named anisakiasis. Though these parasites can live in humans for long, they cause severe immune reactions, which lead to vomiting, stomach pain, and inflammation. They are most common in South America, Japan, and the Netherlands.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections may lead to food poisoning. That is another reason why we should always cook food to the optimum temperature before consuming it. You may experience the main symptoms if you have food poisoning: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. The bacteria found in raw fish which could be potentially harmful are Salmonella, Listeria, Clostridium, Vibrio. Surveys conducted in the United States reported that around 3% of domestic seafood and about 10% of raw seafood imported tested positive for Salmonella bacteria. The risk of food poisoning in healthy people may be less. Still, those with weak immune systems are very susceptible to bacterial infections.


Besides the various parasitic and bacterial infections transmitted from eating raw fish, there are other dangers. Raw fish could also have a high amount of pollutants. Persistent organic pollutants, that is, POPs, are very common in farmed fish such as salmon. Consuming more elevated amounts of such fish could lead to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cancer. Though cooking cannot remove every type of contaminant in fish, it effectively removes the most harmful ones. Thus, it is always best to cook fish properly before eating.


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