Fish as food

Fish as food

:"This page is about the use of fish as food; for other uses of the word, see Fish (disambiguation)"Fish as food describes the edible parts of freshwater and saltwater-dwelling, cold-blooded vertebrates with gills. Shellfish, such as mollusks and crustaceans, are other edible water-dwelling animals that fall into the broadest category of fish. [ [ Epicurious Food Dictionary] ]


Fish is consumed as food all over the world; with other seafoods, it provides the world's prime source of high-quality protein: 14–16% of the animal protein consumed world-wide; over one billion people rely on fish as their primary source of animal protein. [World Health Organization.] [Tidwell, James H. and Allan, Geoff L.] Fish is among the most common food allergens. [The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network]

Iceland, Japan and Portugal are the greatest consumers of fish per capita in the world. [Aquamedia]

Common species

There are over 27,000 species of fish, making them the most diverse group of vertebrates. However, only a small number of the total species are considered food fish and are commonly eaten.

Some common food fish species are listed below:
* Anchovy
* Carp
* Catfish
* Chilean sea bass
* Cod
* Eel
* Haddock
* Herring
* Mackerel
* Salmon
* Sardine
* Scad
* Snapper
* Tilapia
* Trout
* Tuna


Fish is a highly perishable product. The "fishy" smell of dead fish is due to the breakdown of amino acids into biogenic amines and ammonia. [ [N. Narain and Nunes, M.L. Marine Animal and Plant Products. "In:" Handbook of Meat, Poultry and Seafood Quality, L.M.L. Nollet and T. Boylston, eds. Blackwell Publishing 2007, p 247.] ]

Live food fish are sometimes transported in tanks at high expense for an international market that prefers its seafood killed immediately before it is cooked. Delivery of live fish without water is also being explored. [ [ WIPO] ] While some seafood restaurants keep live fish in aquaria for display purposes or for cultural beliefs, the majority of live fish are kept for dining customers. The live food fish trade in Hong Kong, for example, is estimated to have driven imports of live food fish to more than 15,000 tonnes in 2000. Worldwide sales that year were estimated at US$400 million, according to the World Resources Institute. [ [ The World Resources Institute, The live reef fish trade] ]


Fresh fish is a highly perishable food product, so it must be eaten promptly or discarded; it can be kept for only a short time. In many countries, fresh fish are filleted and displayed for sale on a bed of crushed ice or refrigerated. Fresh fish is most commonly found near bodies of water, but the advent of refrigerated train and truck transportation has made fresh fish more widely available inland.

Long term preservation of fish is accomplished in a variety of ways. The oldest and still most widely used techniques are drying and salting. Desiccation (complete drying) is commonly used to preserve fish such as cod. Partial drying and salting is popular for the preservation of fish like herring and mackerel. Fish such as salmon, tuna, and herring are cooked and canned. Most fish are filleted prior to canning, but some small fish (e.g. sardines) are only decapitated and gutted prior to canning.


Fish can be prepared in a variety of ways. It can be uncooked (raw) ("cf." sashimi). It can be cured by marinating ("cf." escabeche), pickling ("cf." pickled herring), or smoking ("cf." smoked salmon). Or it can be cooked by baking, frying ("cf." fish and chips), grilling, poaching ("cf." court-bouillon), or steaming. Many of the preservation techniques used in different cultures have since become unnecessary but are still performed for their resulting taste and texture when consumed.

Nutrition and health

Fish, especially saltwater fish, is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are heart-friendly, and a regular diet of fish is highly recommended by nutritionists [University of Michigan Health System.] . This is supposed to be one of the major causes of reduced risk for cardiovascular diseases in Eskimos. It has been suggested that the longer lifespan of Japanese and Nordic populations may be partially due to their higher consumption of fish and seafood. The Mediterranean diet is likewise based on a rich intake of fish. Fish products have been shown to contain varying amounts of heavy metals, particularly mercury and fat-soluble pollutants from water pollution. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern for most people [ What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish] ] . However, certain seafood contains sufficient mercury to harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system. The FDA makes three recommendations for child-bearing women and young children:

# Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
# Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
# Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week.

These recommendations are also advised when feeding fish and shellfish to young children, but in smaller portions.

Parasites in fish are a natural occurrence and common. Though not a health concern in thoroughly cooked fish, parasites are a concern when consumers eat raw or lightly preserved fish such as sashimi, sushi, ceviche, and gravlax. The popularity of the such raw fish dishes makes it important for consumers to be aware of this risk. Raw fish should be frozen to an internal temperature of −20°C (−4°F) for at least 7 days to kill parasites. It is important to be aware that home freezers may not be cold enough to kill parasites. [ [ "Parasites in Marine Fishes" University of California Food Science & Technology Department Sea Grant Extension Program] ] [ [ Vaughn M. "Sushi and Sashimi Safety"] ]

Traditionally, fish that live some or part of their lives in fresh water were considered unsuitable for sashimi due to the possibility of parasites (see Sashimi article). Parasitic infections from freshwater fish are a serious problem in some parts of the world, particularly Southeast Asia. Fish that spend part of their life cycle in brackish or freshwater, like salmon are a particular problem. A study in Seattle, Washington showed that 100% of wild salmon had roundworm larvae capable of infecting people. In the same study farm raised salmon did not have any roundworm larvae. [Cite journal
volume = 25
issue = 3
pages = 416–419
last = Deardorff
first = TL
coauthors = ML Kent
title = Prevalence of larval Anisakis simplex in pen-reared and wild-caught salmon (Salmonidae) from Puget Sound, Washington
journal = Journal of Wildlife Diseases
accessdate = 2008-03-03
date = 1989-07-01
url =
pmid = 2761015
format = abstract

Fish are the most common food to obstruct the airway and cause choking which was responsible for about 4,500 accidents a year in the UK as of 1998. [ [ Home and leisure accident report Summary of 1998 data p.16 Department of Trade and Industry (UK)] ]

Fish as meat

The term "meat" has animal, vegetable and fungal applications - to wit, the "meat" of a tomato (distinct from the juice and seeds), the "meat" of a mushroom cap (as distinct from spores, gills and stems); and the edible flesh of any animal, as well as its edible organs(both as distinct from the bones, skin, feathers, fur, scales, etc.), are called "meat".

As a generic culinary and butchery term, "meat" refers to the muscular flesh of a mammal. This is the definition most commonly applied by governments in meat product regulation and food labeling, and in religious rites and rituals. Edible birds and fish/seafood are not "meat" under this application but are treated separately from mammals. Likewise, amphibians and reptiles, not to mention the "meat" of edible insects, arachnids, and so on.

Religious rites and rituals regarding food also tend to apply this distinction, classifying the birds of the air and the fish of the sea separately from land-bound mammals. Sea-bound mammals are often treated as fish under religious laws - as in Jewish dietary law, which forbids the eating of whale, dolphin, porpoise, and orca because they are not "fish with fins and scales"; nor, as mammals, do they "cheweth the cud and divideth the hoof."

Otherwise, seasonal religious prohibitions against eating meat do not usually include fish. For example, meat was forbidden during Lent and on all Fridays of the year in pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism, but fish was permitted (as were eggs). (See Fasting in Catholicism.) In Eastern Orthodoxy, fish is permitted on some fast days when meat is forbidden, but stricter fast days also prohibit fish with fins and scales, while permitting invertebrate seafood such as shrimp and oysters, considering them "fish without blood."

Muslim (halaal) and Jewish (kosher) practice treat fish differently from other animal foods. Some Buddhists and Hindus (Brahmins of West Bengal state in India) abjure meat, but not fish. From a Buddhist point of view, if a person abjures meat, he or she is most likely to abjure fish as well. Fish is also meat since it comes from animal.

Pescetarians, for example, may consume fish based solely upon the fact that the fish are not factory farmed as land animals are (i.e., their problem is with the capitalist-industrial production of meat, not with the consumption of animal foods themselves). [] Some eat fish with the justification that fish have less sophisticated nervous systems than land-dwelling animals. Others may choose to consume only wild fish based upon the lack of confinement, while choosing to not consume fish that have been farmed.

ee also

* Anisakis
* Biltong
* Boneless Fish
* Boning knife
* Bouillabaisse
* Bourdeto
* Ceviche
* Crab stick
* Crappit heid
* Croquette
* Fish and chips
* Fish ball
* Fish head
* Fish processing
* Fish products
* Fish slice
* Fishcake
* Fishmonger
* Fishstick
* Gefilte fish
* Ichthyoallyeinotoxism
* Kamaboko
* Kipper
* Kudoa thyrsites
* Lox
* Offal
* Oily fish
* Oroshi hocho
* Phosphatidyleserine
* Poke (Hawaii)
* Pompano en Papillote
* Quenelles Lyonnaises
* Rakfisk
* Remoulade
* Rissole
* Seafood
* Seafood birdsnest
* Seafood Watch
* Smoked salmon
* Soused herring
* Surimi
* Surströmming
* Sushi
* Tuna fish sandwich



*Aquamedia, "Consumption of Fishery Products" retrieved from on 2007-09-17.
*Tidwell, James H. and Allan, Geoff L., "Fish as food: aquaculture’s contribution Ecological and economic impacts and contributions of fish farming and capture fisheries", 2001-11-15, retrieved from on 2007-09-17.
*University of Michigan Health System, "Fish & Seafood" retrieved from on 2007-09-17.
*, "Frequently Asked Questions-Definitions" retrieved from on 2007-09-17.
*"The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2000", 2000, retrieved from on 2007-11-17. World Health Organization.

External links

* [ Science Daily] Benefits Of Eating Fish Greatly Outweigh The Risks, New Study Says
* [ Science Daily] Experts Say Consumers Can Eat Around Toxins In Fish
* [ Scientific American] Soy and fish protect from cancer: study.

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