Information for consumers
There is considerable legislation setting out the legal requirement for the industrial production of fishery products for human consumption. However, there is no requirement for private or domestic consumers to comply with this legislation i.e. wild fish caught from UK rivers or coastal waters. As such the FSA advises consumers to ensure that such products are safe to eat. Consumers should visually inspect the fish or fillet and remove parasites. Those fish which are found to be obviously or heavily contaminated should not be consumed.
If wild fish is to be eaten raw or almost raw it should be frozen for at least 24 hours, at a temperature of at least -20°C. This will ensure that any non-visible parasites or undetectable larvae are destroyed. This advice also applies to produce which will undergo cold smoking or salting.
If freezing as described above is not possible, it is highly advisable to cook the flesh thoroughly. 70°C for two minutes.
As there is no infallible method of detecting and removing larvae, this advice is particularly relevant for pregnant women, elderly people, and the immunocompromised where ingestion of live parasites from fish could pose a serious health risk.
This section is adapted from an article released by the Fish and Shellfish Hygiene Branch of the FSA. Crown Copyright (2007). https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/freezing-fish-and-fishery-products