EU regulations introduced back in 2006 required that fish to be consumed raw or nearly raw, must be frozen for more than 24 hours at certain temperatures. This was to protect us from getting ill by eating the parasites that may come in with fish.
A recent development however means that Farmed salmon produced in the UK no longer has to be frozen before we eat it as Sashimi and Sushi. The EU
have recognised that the risk of parasites in Atlantic salmon farmed in the UK is
negligible. (Atlantic salmon is what we usually see in fishmongers.) It’s officialised in the amendments to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004, introduced in late 2011.
Steve Hardie of the Food Standards Agency in Scotland said: “The previous
EU freezing rules for fish intended to be eaten raw did not recognise the
different risks associated with parasites in wild and farmed fish. But we now
have a specific freezing exemption for farmed fish that can be applied when
certain criteria related to diet and production methods are met.”
In Japan, the home of Sashimi and Sushi, it is left to the experienced eyes
of Sushi chefs to check and select parasite free fish. In Europe, there aren’t
enough experienced Sushi chefs around, so one can understand the EU trying
to protect the public.
Scottish salmon producers were confident that their farmed salmon
wouldn’t have parasites because the feed given was controlled and sea pens,
where salmon are raised were maintained in such a way that the parasite risk
was extremely low.
The problem with freezing is that unless it is done properly, the quality of the
fish is undermined, and this means the farmed Scottish salmon could lose out
their share of Sashimi and Sushi market.
So, it’s now down to traceability. If your fishmonger can prove that the salmon
you are buying is from one of the Scottish salmon farmers, then you are
perfectly fine to eat it raw.
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