Is dancing shrimp safe to eat? (3 risks)

In this article, we will discuss whether dancing shrimp is safe to eat, what are the risks of eating dancing shrimp, when should you not eat dancing shrimp and how to reduce the risks of eating dancing shrimp.

Dancing shrimp is a dish served in Asian countries, mainly in Japan and Thailand, where the shrimp is served live or as fresh as possible so that the shrimp is still in movement.

Is dancing shrimp safe to eat?

No, dancing shrimp is not safe to eat. Uncooked shrimp may carry pathogens and cause foodborne diseases, especially related to parasite infections (2).

Raw shrimp can also carry inherent pathogenic bacteria and viruses and be infected by foreign pathogenic bacteria, as a result of poor handling or cross-contamination (1, 3, 4).

Dancing shrimp has been reported to cause foodborne diseases not only in restaurants in Asia but also in Europe (2).

What are the risks of eating dancing shrimp?

The risks of eating dancing shrimp are mainly foodborne diseases. Infections by bacteria, viruses and parasites are common as a result of consuming uncooked seafood. The risks of eating dancing shrimp are summarised in the table below (1, 2, 3, 4):

Risk  Description Consequence

Infection by bacteria

Infection by bacteria can occur both by inherent bacteria and as a result of cross-contamination. Bacteria that can be naturally present in dancing shrimp are Klebsiella pneumoniae, Vibrio cholera, Pseudomonas vulgaris, Enterobacter and Aerobacter. Cross-contamination and poor handling of dancing shrimp can cause infection by Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus Foodborne infection caused by the ingestion of contaminated dancing shrimp can cause infection of gastrointestinal with symptoms such as diarrhoea. The aggravation of the disease can lead to septicemia, hospitalisation and death

Infection by parasites

Shrimp carry living parasites in their intestines. Common parasites are nematodes (Anisakis), which are larvae and also  Infections can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, such as stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, also to allergic symptoms, such as urticaria and anaphylaxis

Infection by viruses

Raw seafood can carry viruses, such as hepatitis E, hepatitis A and norovirus (5, 6) Virus infections can lead to symptoms such as weakness, skin reactions, nausea, fever and other gastrointestinal symptoms

How to reduce the risks of eating dancing shrimp?

To reduce the risk of eating dancing shrimp, you can (3, 6, 7):

Choose a trustworthy restaurant, that is, where you can check the cooking and serving practices of the employees and ensure that they follow good and improved hygienic food practices 

Check the freshness of the animals before consuming them and avoid eating when any unusual characteristic is noticeable, such as an unusual colour or odour

Add generously vinegar or lemon juice to your dancing shrimp. Acid solutions can partially reduce viral contamination in seafood (5)

Who should not eat dancing shrimp?

Elderly individuals, small children, pregnant women, patients who are treated with immunosuppressive drugs and any immunocompromised individual should not eat dancing shrimp. 

For these individuals who have a deficient immune system, the risk of infection is higher, as well as the aggravation of diseases, leading to severe conditions and higher mortality rates (8). 

For instance, an infection caused by norovirus can lead to chronic gastroenteritis in immunocompromised patients, hepatitis can lead to chronic hepatitis and Salmonella infections can lead to meningitis.

Listeriosis, which is the infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes, can lead to stillbirth and miscarriage in the case of pregnant women and meningitis in the case of elderly and other weakened individuals.

Therefore, if you have a weakened immune system, avoid consuming dancing shrimp.


In this article, we discussed whether it is safe to eat dancing shrimp, what are the risks of eating dancing shrimp, how to reduce the risks of eating dancing shrimp and who should not eat dancing shrimp.

Because dancing shrimp is served live, I would not be encouraged to eat it. However, it is a traditional Japanese food and is very appreciated by consumers in many parts of the world.

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