Have you had lunch already? For your sake, I hope it wasn’t sushi (unless it was vegan, of course) or “fresh” fish, because you may have just shared your meal with some lovely parasitic worms.
Every kind of wild fish can contain nematodes (roundworms). These little bundles of joy are found in fish everywhere, from outback hole-in-the-wall dives to the most upscale eateries.
Some foodies love to promote wild or “line-caught” fish over fish slaughtered at aquafarms. But wild fish may actually be more susceptible to parasites. Biologists in Demark found that more than 90 percent of certain types of wild fish were infected with nematode larvae. Another study, by researchers in Alaska, revealed that all the fresh-caught salmon who were examined contained nematode infestations. Scientists believe that rising average water temperatures because of climate change will significantly increase the amount of worms found in wild fish.
A top purveyor in Portland, Oregon, told Vice that there are parasites in every kind of fish. The vendor, who—in light of selling worm-ridden fish—wished to remain anonymous, admitted to not eating raw fish after what he or she has seen.
Packaged fish commonly found in grocery stores also risk harboring parasites. Viral videos from freaked-out shoppers at stores across the country have revealed living, wriggling parasites.
Folks assume that thoroughly cooking or freezing fish to proper temperatures rids the flesh of worms. But top chefs will tell you that appealing fish preparation commonly involves cooking temperatures of 120 to 130 degrees, well below the 145-degree safety threshold. In addition, fish have to remain frozen at -4 degrees for seven days before worms will typically be killed. And even if the fish is prepared properly, you’ll still be eating worm carcasses inside the fish carcass. Yum!
There’s no way of consuming fish flesh that’s free of disgusting contaminates. Aquafarms are cramped, filthy enclosures where many fish suffer from parasitic infections as well as diseases and sustain debilitating injuries. In addition, the term “organic” means nothing for fish on the market. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has yet to finalize organic standards for farmed fish.
It’s great to go vegan. You get to help save the planet as well as hundreds of animals by leaving them off your plate. Oh, and you don’t have to fret over ingesting parasitic worms!