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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MARQUIS, Grace E. et al. Microbiological safety and quality of ceviche, poke, and sushi dishes sold at retail outlets in Orange County, CA. Heliyon, 2023.
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. https://ask.usda.gov/ Website. Washington, DC. How long can you store fish? 2023.