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Can You Eat Raw Shrimp? Your Extensive Guide on Safely Eating Raw Shrimp and Who Should Avoid It

Can You Eat Raw Shrimp? Your Extensive Guide on Safely Eating Raw Shrimp and Who Should Avoid It

We enjoy shrimp in so many different ways and in unique dishes. But raw shrimp makes many people nervous, which makes it fair to ask: Can you eat raw shrimp?

When raw shrimp is prepared correctly, it’s safe to eat. It’s not only safe to eat, but it’s common in many cultures and cuisines. For example, Japan is famous for the growing popularity of sushi across the world. It’s common for raw shrimp sashimi or nigiri dishes in Japanese cultures, among other popular raw seafood options.

Raw shrimp is delicious, but eating raw seafood, especially shellfish, can be dangerous. Raw or undercooked shrimp can contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning or other foodborne illnesses. Eating spoiled shrimp or uncooked seafood, like raw oysters or other raw shellfish, may even be fatal.

Continue reading this article to find out when it’s safe to eat raw shrimp and what precautions to take when preparing it.

We cover the following items in this post:

What Does Raw Shrimp Taste Like?

Raw shrimp on a plate. Can you eat raw shrimp?

Raw shrimp presents a mild flavor with a slightly sweet and briny taste. The texture is usually a bit softer, but some types of shrimp can be more firm depending on where they come from.

For reference, cooked shrimp has a slightly salty and sweet flavor. The texture should be firm, but also soft and a little chewy.

The Health Benefits of Eating Shrimp

Raw shrimp is a low-calorie, high-protein food full of antioxidants and minerals. When eaten with minimal preparation, your body can obtain more nutrients from shrimp, as none of it will be destroyed during the cooking process. Dishes like sushi and raw shrimp ceviche make great use of uncooked shrimp.

Shrimp Nutrition Facts

Raw shrimp contains Vitamin B12, selenium, and choline. It is also low in carbohydrates and fats.

A 5-ounce serving of salmon contains the following nutritional value:

  • Calories: 140.3
  • Protein: 34 g
  • Iron: 0.7 mg
  • Phosphorus: 335 mg
  • Potassium: 366.7 mg
  • Zinc: 2.3 mg
  • Magnesium: 55.3 mg
  • Sodium: 157.3 mg

Eating raw shrimp can help you trim off excess weight or maintain your figure.

The Dangers of Eating Raw Shrimp

While raw shrimp can be delicious when prepared properly, raw, or undercooked seafood can be hazardous to your health.

You face the risk of food poisoning if you aren’t cooking your wild-caught or farmed shrimp and instead you’re consuming it raw.

  • Raw shrimp may contain a bacteria called vibrio. Vibrio (or vibrio vulnificus) is a very salt-tolerant bacteria, found in saltwater environments and can cause foodborne illnesses if consumed. Vibrio can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills.
  • Salmonella is another risk when eating raw shrimp. Seafood generally gets infected when the animal was in contaminated water. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, chills, stomach cramps, and blood in your stool.

The vast majority of food poisoning cases are caused by one of the following: Salmonella, E. coli, Vibrio, or Bacillus. These can all be acquired through raw shrimp.

A pregnant woman holding her stomach.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pregnant women should avoid raw or undercooked raw fish or shellfish. There may be bacteria present on raw shrimp that harm the woman and her child.

Additionally, young children — those under the age of 5 — should stay away from raw shrimp and raw seafood in general as they’re more susceptible to foodborne illnesses.

Generally speaking, pregnant women, young children, older adults, and any other high-risk individuals should stay away from raw seafood.

Food Safety Tips When Preparing Shrimp

A man washing raw shrimp. Can you eat raw shrimp?

So how can you avoid food poisoning if you want to eat raw shrimp? Follow these steps to prepare raw shrimp for your next meal safely.

  • First, keep the raw shrimp on ice until you use it. If you refrigerate the shrimp, eat it within one day. If your shellfish was left out or is in the refrigerator for longer than a day, toss it in the trash.
  • Once you’re ready to eat the shrimp, wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before touching the shrimp. This will remove harmful bacteria from your hands.
  • Wash any surfaces that will touch the raw shrimp, such as plates, forks, or your counter, to avoid cross-contamination. Harmful bacteria may lurk on these surfaces and cause food poisoning if they aren’t cleaned.
  • Once your work area and hands are clean, run the shrimp under cold water in a bowl. Washing the shrimp can remove dirt and bacteria on its surface.
  • You will also want to devein the shrimp. Remove the thin black line running down its back. This is the shrimp’s digestive tract and shouldn’t be eaten.

By properly preparing raw shrimp, you reduce the risk of food poisoning from eating raw or undercooked shrimp or shellfish.

How to Tell If Shrimp Is Properly Cooked

A food thermometer on a table.

Undercooked shrimp can be dangerous to your health. If you are cooking shrimp, you can greatly reduce your risk of contracting food poisoning.

Cooking raw shrimp properly is an easy skill to learn. Simply look at the thickest part of the shrimp. Then focus on the ridge that runs through the middle of this section. Once the meat at the base of this ridge, usually translucent, is opaque, the shrimp will most likely be fully cooked.

Cooking fish to an internal temperature of 140°F helps remove harmful bacteria and parasites and ensures the crustacean is fully cooked. The cooking process effectively kills the parasites once temperatures meet or exceed this temperature.

If the shrimp smells fishy, smells like ammonia, tastes like bleach, or tastes fishy after cooking — toss it! These are obvious signs the shrimp is spoiled.

Final Thoughts: Can You Eat Raw Shrimp?

Remember that raw seafood will always present more risks of foodborne illnesses than cooked seafood. That is not meant to scare you away, but to get you in the headspace of being more vigilant and particular about the raw seafood you consume.

The key is to ensure the shrimp comes from a clean, reliable source country and has been stored and handled safely before you eat it. Being one of the most popular types of seafood in the world makes it easier to be picky about the shrimp you choose due to the high volume of options. Even if it’s a bit pricier, always opt for high-quality options from respected sources.

However, you are assuming certain health risks by eating undercooked shellfish. You won’t be able to see harmful bacteria that may be growing on any shrimp that’s eaten raw. Purchase raw shrimp from a respected grocery store or other reputable sources that give you faith in their storage processes of seafood. Buying fresh shellfish can protect your health!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is It Okay to Eat Raw Shrimp in Sushi?

Shrimp sushi is a delicacy that you might enjoy at your favorite restaurant. Sweet shrimp such as Kuruma Eba and Ama Ebi are two staples of sushi dishes. They have a sweet taste and a firm texture even when served raw.

However, parasites may present harmful bacteria even in professionally prepared sushi that uses raw shrimp.

You can eat raw shrimp in sushi when it’s properly prepared. Often, frozen shrimp is served raw once the cold temperatures have had time to kill any bacteria or parasites. However, it’s probably best to leave this task to professional chefs.

How Long Does Food Poisoning from Shrimp Take to Start?

Food poisoning from eating raw shrimp typically takes a few hours to set in. Stomachaches and abdominal cramps are common symptoms of food poisoning.

Dehydration is also a common symptom of food poisoning. If you eat raw shrimp and feel ill, seek medical attention. Food poisoning cases require rapid treatment or can become a significant health hazard and potentially fatal.

How Long After Eating Raw Shrimp Will I Get Sick?

You will get sick within several hours of eating raw shrimp contaminated by harmful bacteria.

Your stomach acids will most likely be unable to kill the bacteria you ingest with the shrimp. Those with weakened immune systems may be especially vulnerable to shellfish poisoning. You may feel weak, dizzy, or dehydrated if you suffer from food poisoning.

Can You Cook Raw Shrimp on The Grill?

Is there an aspiring shrimp cook in your family? You can cook raw shrimp, frozen shrimp, or fresh shrimp on the grill.

Cooking shellfish is simple and takes just a few minutes. Add a spritz of lemon juice and wait until your seafood gets an internal temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure it’s safe for everyone. By cooking shrimp properly on the grill, you can remove much of the risk that comes with its raw consumption.