Can you eat ahi tuna raw? (3 Reasons)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you eat ahi tuna raw? We will discuss the risks associated with eating raw ahi tuna and some reasons to avoid eating raw ahi tuna.

Can you eat ahi tuna raw?

You can eat ahi tuna raw only if it is sushi or sashimi grade. Ahi tuna is not safe for raw consumption because it contains parasites as well as a high amount of mercury.

Raw ahi tuna is prepared by searing it lightly on a pan. The insides of raw ahi tuna are tender, while the middle is completely raw. 

You must not eat raw ahi tuna if you are aged, pregnant, breastfeeding, or immunocompromised. Also, children must not be fed raw ahi tuna because it can not only cause food poisoning, but the high levels of mercury can cause stunted growth and poor mental development. 

If ahi tuna was properly handled then it is deemed safe for raw consumption. With a label as sushi or sashimi-grade, it is frozen immediately on the fishing boat, to kill the parasites.

What is ahi tuna?

Ahi tuna is also known as yellowfin or yellowtail. Ahi tuna has a moist and supple texture; that is why people prefer to eat without cooking to the full extent. 

If you buy Costco’s Wagyu sashimi-grade Hamachi, the package indicates that is safe to eat. Trader Joe’s ahi tuna is also labeled sushi-grade.

Even if it was frozen and handled properly, there is still a slight risk of food poisoning. 

Why is it dangerous to eat ahi tuna raw?

Ahi tuna has parasites that will not be eradicated unless the fish were frozen immediately after harvesting them.

The Opisthorchiidae and Anisakadie parasites can cause diseases unless the meat was either frozen or cooked.

Moreover, ahi tuna has dangerously high levels of mercury. Therefore, the American Pregnancy Association recommends that everyone should avoid eating ahi tuna raw.

Why does the label sushi-grade or sashimi-grade is not sound?

The word sushi-grade or sashimi-grade is biased and lacks involvement from food regulatory bodies; the way beef is.

The grading is merely a marketing tactic in which the seller determines the safety of fish. USDA or FDA does not approve the raw consumption of fish as it does for beef.

The phrase is merely a market tactic to appeal to a greater fan base than the Japanese market. 

Even though FDA covers the standard operating procedures and testification related to the consumption of raw fish, they do not deem it safe.

The FDA guidelines for eating raw fish are rigorous to kill maximum parasites and control bacterial pathogenic control. 

The ahi tuna is frozen to a temperature of at least -31 Fahrenheits for A specific period. Therefore, sushi restaurants and fish markets have freezers that reach around or even below that temperature.

The same level of treatment of ahi tuna; cannot be attained if you try freezing ahi tuna at home.

FDA emphasis the importance of freezing fish that are intended for undercooked or raw consumption. Freezing is the only way to get rid of parasites, other practices such as feeding parasite-free feed. 

The parasites may be dangerous, but the probability of succumbing to them is scarce.

Infections are caused by Anisakis worms, which has affected a small population, while some infections are asymptomatic, hence go unnoticed. The most prevalent parasite in marine fish is nematodes, or roundworms, from the genus Anisakis. 

Roundworms live in the gut and cause nausea and stomach pain or a more severe form of food poisoning. 

According to parasitologists, in some cases, the ingestion of the parasite can cause surgical removal of the intestine. 

When the fish is frozen, before eating them raw, the parasite becomes dormant and will not be able to host itself in a person’s body.

Another potential risk of eating any raw meat including, seafood, is bacterial contamination. Bacteria start to grow as soon as the fish is slaughtered. Food-handling practice requires freezing fish immediately on the boat and not breaking the chain until meat reaches the consumer. 

Another part of food handling is to clean and sanitize a very piece of equipment that comes in contact with the meat. 

The facilities where fish is processed and packaged must have clean tools and clean hands—and the authorities need to minimize their contact with the fish flesh.

However, even amid such precautions, bacterial contamination in such susceptible meat as seafood is inevitable. Cooking helps to destroy any such bacteria that have dwelled on ahi tuna and makes the fish safe than if it were eaten raw.

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you eat ahi tuna raw? We discussed the risks associated with eating raw ahi tuna and some reasons to avoid eating raw ahi tuna.

Other FAQs about Tuna that you may be interested in.

Can I feed my dog canned tuna?

How many times a week can you eat tuna?

What is the difference between albacore and yellowfin tuna?


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