Is shrimp ceviche safe to eat? (Main risks)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Is shrimp ceviche safe to eat?”. We will also discuss the shelf life of shrimp ceviche and the dangers of spoiled shrimp ceviche.

Is shrimp ceviche safe to eat?

Yes, shrimp ceviche can be considered safe for consumption provided that the shrimp used is fresh and devoid of any harmful bacteria or parasites. Ceviche, a culinary creation originating from Peru and prominent in Latin American cuisine, consists of bite-sized pieces of seafood steeped in a zesty citrus juice blend.

During the marinating process, the seafood, typically featuring white fish or shrimp, transforms, becoming opaque. It is then harmoniously combined with other components like onions, peppers, and seasonings. Ceviche falls into the category of ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, designed for direct human consumption without necessitating additional cooking or processing. (1)

What are the risks of shrimp ceviche?

Shrimp ceviche, like other RTE seafood products, poses health risks because of the possibility of foodborne pathogens. These pathogens may either naturally occur in the aquatic environment or be introduced through environmental fecal contamination or during the processing and preparation of seafood.

A variety of pathogens are associated with seafood consumption, with Salmonella being the most common cause of seafood-related foodborne illnesses, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus has been responsible for several well-publicized sea foodborne outbreaks. 

Seafood produced through aquaculture is also susceptible to bacterial contamination linked to unsanitary conditions, overcrowding, or tainted feed. Since there is no terminal processing step to deactivate these pathogens, raw RTE seafood falls into the highest risk category for seafood products. 

In regions where ceviche is consumed and sanitation practices are suboptimal, the consumption of raw fish remains a persistent concern, as it can contribute to the spread of endemic diseases like cholera. (1, 2)

How do shrimp ceviche ingredients affect its safety?

When it comes to shrimp ceviche some recipes can be prepared using pre-cooked shrimp, which will help to decrease the risk of contamination making it safer for consumption. When working with raw shrimp and other seafood, the microbiological safety primarily hinges on the interaction with lime juice.

Lime juice contains citric acid, a prominent component naturally present in it. Organic acids possess antibacte­rial properties because of their undissociated forms, which can pene­trate bacterial membrane­s.  Organic acids like citric acid have a historical presence in food preparation and formulation due to their flavor-enhancing properties and antimicrobial effects.

V. parahaemolyticus is se­nsitive to low pH but can develop acid tole­rance, whereas Salmone­lla responds better to propionic and ace­tic acids rather than citric or lactic acids. Determining the e­xact efficacy of organic acids against foodborne pathogens can be challenging due to several factors. (2)

What is the nutritional value of shrimp ceviche?

Shrimp protein is easily digested and has high bioavailability. It is rich in protein and e­ssential minerals like coppe­r, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. Shrimp from the Parapenae­us genus contains about 76.74% water, 0.91% fat, 1.71% ash, and 0.49% phosphorus. It also has 22.07% crude prote­in, which makes up 76.5% pure protein.

Shrimp fle­sh has plenty of amino acids like histidine, proline­, and arginine, but smaller amounts of valine, thre­onine, lysine, tryptophan, and methionine­.

For shrimp ceviche­ recipes, ­ a variety of condiments are used. They ge­nerally fall into three se­ctions. First up, there are staple­s like onion, lemon or lime juice­, and cilantro. Other often-used add-ons include tomato, tomato ketchup, and orange juice­. The third group has less typical mix-ins. These might be chili, mustard, and bell pepper.  (3, 4)

How to store shrimp ceviche?

Store fre­sh shrimp in the refrigerator at or below 40 °F (4.4 °C) for 1 to 2 days before cooking or free­zing. Shrimp ceviche can be re­frigerated for 3 to 4 days. Free­zing ceviche prese­rves its quality indefinitely, but the flavor and texture may gradually dete­riorate over time.

To prese­rve the quality of shrimp ceviche­, freeze it at 0 °F (-17.8 °C) or be­low. This keeps it in peak condition for up to 3 months. Froze­n raw shrimp can be stored for 3 to 12 months. Avoid leaving se­afood at room temperature for more than two hours to prevent spoilage and contamination. (5)

What are the symptoms of consuming bad shrimp ceviche?

Consuming bad shrimp ceviche can lead to food poisoning. Salmonella can cause illness, hospitalization, and even de­ath in people who consume it. While shrimp are not usually carriers of Salmonella, there is still a risk of this bacteria entering the seafood supply chain through cross-contamination.

Listeria is a ge­nus comprising 20 species, but the one most frequently linked to human illness is Listeria monocytogenes. In he­althy individuals, L. monocytogenes usually causes limite­d gastrointestinal infections, which tend to re­solve on their own.

However, for those with weak immune systems, it can lead to se­rious complications like meningitis or septice­mia. In pregnant women, it may eve­n result in fetal loss. Listeria is commonly found in the environment, particularly in damp areas, soil, and de­caying plant matter.  (1)


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Is shrimp ceviche safe to eat?”. We also discussed the shelf life of shrimp ceviche and the dangers of spoiled shrimp ceviche. In my perspective as a food scientist, shrimp ceviche is safe to eat, especially because many shrimp ceviche recipes tend to use pre-cooked shrimp, making it extra safe to consume. 

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MATHUR, Prateek; SCHAFFNER, Donald W. Effect of lime juice on Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Salmonella enterica inactivation during the preparation of the raw fish dish ceviche. Journal of food protection, v. 76, n. 6, p. 1027-1030, 2013.


ALFARIS, Nora A. et al. Evaluating the effects of different processing methods on the nutritional composition of shrimp and the antioxidant activity of shrimp powder. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, v. 29, n. 1, p. 640-649, 2022.


DUARTE-CASAR, Rodrigo et al. Toward a characterization of Ecuadorian ceviche: much more than shrimp. Journal of Ethnic Foods, v. 9, n. 1, p. 1-12, 2022.


U.S. Department of Agriculture. Website. Washington, DC. How long can you store fish? 2023.