Is Tasmanian salmon safe to eat? (3+ risks)

In this article, we will discuss whether Tasmanian salmon is safe to eat, what are the risks of eating Tasmanian salmon, what characterises Tasmanian salmon and how the salmon farming practices in Australia are monitored.

Tasmanian salmon is the Atlantic salmon species that is farmed in Australia. It has similar characteristics as other farmed Atlantic salmon of other origins. The practice of farming salmon in Tasmania is relatively recent.

Is Tasmanian salmon safe to eat?

Yes, Tasmanian salmon is safe to eat, unless it is spoiled. Despite the possible risks of eating fish and seafood, the farming practices for salmon in Australia are well monitored regarding environmental impacts and safety regulations (1). 

However, due to possible high levels of contaminants such as heavy metals and chemical water pollutants, it is recommended to eat Tasmanian salmon in moderation, especially when pregnant (4).

In addition, foodborne illnesses are associated with the ingestion of fish, especially when improperly handled or when eaten uncooked or undercooked (5).

Is the Tasmanian salmon safe to eat when pregnant?

Yes, according to reports given by the Australian Government (4) and also according to recent studies (3), Tasmanian salmon is safe to eat when pregnant, when consumed in moderation.

The levels of Mercury, Arsenic and Cadmium were below the maximum permitted to be considered safe for ingestion.

Farmed fish has a significantly lower concentration of heavy metals in its body composition than wild fish, possibly due to the controlled feeding and safety monitoring (3).

However, the levels of chemical pollutants, such as polychlorinated bisphenols and dioxins were considered high in many samples analysed from both wild and farmed Tasmanian salmon.

Therefore, Tasmanian salmon should be consumed in moderation when pregnant, that means, once every two weeks (2). 

What are the risks of eating Tasmanian salmon?

The risks of eating Tasmanian salmon are summarised in the table below (3, 4, 5):

Risk Description Consequence

Foodborne infection by parasites

Salmon can carry parasites, such as nematodes, trematodes, and flukes, which can survive when fish is not properly cooked Infections by parasites can lead to anaemia, damage to the intestines, and invasion of vital organs, such as the brain and lungs

Foodborne infection by microorganisms

Salmon can be contaminated by many pathogenic microorganisms, such as Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Bacillus and viruses, such as Norovirus and hepatitis A. Infections by pathogenic bacteria can lead to symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting,  nausea and fever. Infections by viruses may cause gastroenteritis and hospitalisation.

Foodborne poisoning

Poisoning due to the ingestion of biogenic amines or scombrotoxin. Histamine and other biogenic amines are generated by the microbial degradation of amino acids in fish. The ingestion of a great quantity of histamine, or scombrotoxin, can lead to symptoms such as vomiting and, a burning sensation in the mouth.

Ingestion of heavy metals or chemical pollutants

The ingestion of heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic, as well as contaminants of chemical pollutants, such as polychlorinated bisphenols and dioxins. The accumulation of such contaminants is common in big and predatory fish such as Salmon. The frequent intake of heavy metals and chemical pollutants can lead to neurological damage, cancer, DNA mutation and damage to organs. The intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding can have negative impacts on the neurodevelopment of the baby.

How can you reduce the risks of eating Tasmanian salmon?

To reduce the risks of eating Tasmanian salmon, you should choose fresh fish with no signs of spoilage or frozen fish packed in good conditions with a suitable shelf life indication and certification of safety and control.

Other safety recommendations are the following (2):

  • Keep fish refrigerated or frozen at all times, including during transportation
  • Avoid repetitive freezing and thawing cycles, as they reduce quality and expose the fish to unsafe microbial conditions
  • Consume fish within its shelf life, that is, 2 days for fresh, 3 days for cooked and 3 months for frozen fish
  • Avoid consuming fish that has any signs of spoilage, such as off-odours (rancid, sour, ammonia-like, putrid), off-flavours (bitter, rancid, fermented), gas production, slime on the surface, loss of texture and discolouration
  • Cook fish to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (63 °C)

Are the farming practices for Tasmanian salmon monitored?

Yes, the farming practices for Tasmanian salmon are monitored by the Environmental Production Authority from the Tasmanian Government and farms must have a licence to produce salmon (1). 

The salmon farming practices are monitored in terms of:

  • water quality (dissolved oxygen, nutrients in water)
  • feeding practices (quantity and quality)
  • effluents disposal (faeces and non-eaten fish food)
  • the environmental impacts


In this article, we discussed whether eating Tasmanian salmon is safe, what are the risks of eating Tasmanian salmon, if it is safe to eat when pregnant and how to improve the safety of eating Tasmanian salmon.

Tasmanian salmon is one of the seafood that I have never tasted but would be glad to!

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Adedeji OB, Okerentugba PO, Innocent-Adiele HC, Okonko IO, Ojeniyi SO, Adejoro SA, Mohamed SA. Benefits, public health hazards and risks associated with fish consumption. New York Science Journal. 2012;5(9):33-61.


Chintagari S, Hazard N, Edwards G, Jadeja R, Janes M. Risks associated with fish and seafood. Preharvest Food Safety. 2018 Jul 1:123-42.