Beware, U.S. Salmon May be Crawling with Japanese Tapeworm, Say Scientists
A recently published study by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, found that Alaskan salmon could be infected with Japanese broad tapeworm, which is a parasite that is previously believed to only infect fish in Asia.
According to the CDC’s study, salmon caught anywhere along the Pacific coast of North America and Asia could be infected with the Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense Tapeworm Larvae.
Researchers warn that based on their findings, any salmon caught along the North American Pacific coast may have the parasite. The concern is that if you eat the fish undercooked or raw, you could become a host to this gruesome parasite.
These new findings are based on an examination of 64 wild salmon from five different species, caught off the Alaskan coast. Samples of pink salmon were found to harbor Japanese broad tapeworm larvae, where some were tapeworms were 8 to 15 mm long.
The Japanese Tapeworm – Diphyllobothrium Nihonkaiense
According to the CDC, there are four types of Pacific salmon that could host the Japanese broad tapeworm:
- chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
- masu salmon (O. masou)
- pink salmon (O. gorbuscha)
- sockeye salmon (O. nerka)
Consuming raw or undercooked salmon, especially in dishes such as sushi, sashimi and ceviche can greatly increase the risk of a tapeworm infection. The CDC says that the parasites can be destroyed when the fish is adequately cooked or completely frozen. It is worth noting that when fish such as salmon are commercially caught, they are placed on ice for the journey to port. But, this ice does not freeze the fish; instead it inly refrigerates them so the risk of infection remains. In order to kill the tapeworm, the fish needs to be frozen completely, inside and out.
Tapeworms Could Be Lurking In Your Sushi
If you eat salmon sushi at a restaurant or a store, you should assume it is unsafe, unless you know the salmon has been frozen. Additionally, you need to cook the salmon well in order to kill the parasite.
Tapeworms can Grow up to 30 feet
Tapeworms, including the Japanese version can grow to 30 feet inside a human digestive tract.
The symptoms of a tapeworm in humans are not always apparent since they can often be mild, with symptoms most commonly linked to other conditions by doctors. The journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews reports that some people with a tapeworm lodged in their intestine might never show any symptoms at all. Other people might only have occasional mild signs of an intestinal tapeworm infection and attribute them to something else.
Tapeworm Symptoms in Humans
Some of the symptoms of tapeworm infection include abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, fatigue, itchy red rash, anal itching, unexplained weight loss, and vitamin B12 deficiency. In rare cases, massive infection can cause an intestinal obstruction or gallbladder inflammation.
How the Infestation is Treated
If you suspect that you have intestinal parasites, your doctor will be able to do a stool test to confirm it and use prescription medication that is most effective against your intestinal parasite.
Should You Consume Farmed Salmon
Wild salmon is just that, it is wild. You can find it living freely in oceans, lakes and rivers. It is high in omega 3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that might reduce heart disease, behavioral problems, depression and inflammatory conditions. It also has a range of other health benefits.
Wild salmon is just that. It’s wild. You can find it living freely in oceans, lakes and rivers. It’s high in omega 3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that may reduce heart disease, behavioral problems, depression and inflammatory conditions2. It also has a range of other health benefits.
Although farmed fish is also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, eating it may do you more harm than good. Farmed fish are grown in fish-farms called aquacultures, where half of the fish in the world comes from. They contain harmful additives and chemicals that you should stay away from
What’s the Problem with Farmed Salmon
Farmed Salmon Contains Toxic Pollutants and Chemicals
Based on a scientific research published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, farmed salmon contains more contaminants that wild salmon. The contaminants were below the appropriated levels, but were still considered higher than what is considered to be safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Toxic chemicals such as POPs, or persistent organic pollutants, can greatly affect human health. Medical studies found that they are associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes and an increased risk of stroke in women6. According to a research published in the Journal of Nutrition, farmed raised salmon contained 10 times the amount found in wild salmon in some areas.
A study done in 2003, from the Environmental Working Group, EWG, found out that seven out of ten farmed salmon purchased in grocery stores in San Francisco, Washington DC, and Portland were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, PCB’s, at levels that would be safe to eat no more than once per month. PCBs are persistent, cancer-causing chemicals that were banned in the United States in 1976.
A study published in CBS News found that farm raised salmon contained high levels of 13 pollutants including dioxins and PCBs.
Dioxins and PCBs are extremely toxic. Dioxins can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system and interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.
According to the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, dioxins were classified as a known human carcinogen12. Although dioxin was not shown to affect genetic material, we should not accept these types of additives in our food.
Farmed Salmon is Exposed to Antibiotics and Pesticides
Since farmed fish are kept in overcrowded nets, it’s easy for them to spread infections to each other. In these conditions, a virus can quickly spread and kill off a massive amount of fish.
Farmers did not like that, so antibiotics are given to farmed fish to prevent them from getting sick and dying off.
According to a research published in the Environmental Microbiology, large amounts of antibiotics are being mixed with fish food and server to farmed fish. A study published in the journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy stated that antibiotics that are used in animal feed might cause infections in humans. Wild fish are not exposed to these antibiotics and thus are safer to eat.
Farmed Salmon is Artificially Pink
Compare a piece of farmed salmon to a piece of wild salmon and you will notice the difference in color. Wild fish contains an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory compound known as astaxanthin, which is responsible for giving the salmon its bright red color. It is interesting to note that this compound is also one of the reasons why salmon is one of the top foods against wrinkles.
Wild salmon get their astaxanthin fill by eating plankton. But farmed fish don’t have this luxury. Instead, they are fed pellets that contain GMO corn and animal byproducts.
Farmed Salmon is Less Nutritious than Wild Salmon
One of the reasons why you eat salmon in the first place is because it’s good for you. So which fish has the highest nutritional content? Here’s a hint. Nature does it best.
A portion of wild salmon contains approximately 130 calories less than farmed fish when comparing small cuts. It contains half the amount of fat, three times more vitamin A and eight times more vitamin D per 100 gram serving. Farmed fish is also 3 times higher in saturated fat.
How to Compare Between Wild and Farmed Salmon
So how can you tell whether a salmon is wild or farm-raised?
Farmed salmon is light pink — almost orange — and has a flatter shine, without the rich hues of red.
Wild salmon is also very lean, so the fat marks, those white stripes you see in the meat, are very thin.
If the fish is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is farmed.
Avoid Atlantic salmon, as typically salmon labeled “Atlantic Salmon” currently comes from fish farms.
Salmon – the Bottom Line
On paper wild fish wins all the rounds. It contains a higher nutritional content. It does not contain antibiotics or artificial additives. And most importantly, it is obtained naturally from its environment.
Avoid farm fish if you can. But there are only so many fish in the sea. There may be times when farm fish is your only option. Remember that farm fish is still high in omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients that we need. But you may want to limit the number of days you eat farmed fish per month.
Be mindful when ordering salmon at restaurants. Unless the menu specifically states that the fish is wild, chances are it’s farmed.
Fresh, wild fish also tastes better than frozen, so enjoy it while you can.