All about the Anisakis and how to avoid it

All about the Anisakis and how to avoid it


What is the Anisakis?


Anisakis is a parasite that mainly affects fish and marine mammals. It is a type of parasite known as nemàmatodos, and are elongated worms, and are usually found in aquatic environments.


These parasites usually cause foodborne diseases causing various types of diseases, the best known are trichinosis and anisakiasis.


Did you know? This type of parasites represents 90% of all life forms of the seas and oceans.


Anisakis life cycle:


The eggs of Anisakis previously fertilized and already with embryos hatch in the sea water, the small crustaceans feed on this type of larvae, becoming unknowingly carriers of the Anisakis, later these crustaceans will be devoured by the next step of the food chain, fishes or cephalopods whether squids or octopuses where the Anisakis will lodge in the walls of the unripened intestines (protected by a layer or capsule), perhaps this carrier is devoured by another fish of greater size where it will perform the most action of staying, thus until the carrier is devoured by a mammal (for example a cetacean) where it evolves to its adult stage also in the intestines, there it can even mate and release its eggs back to the sea through the feces.


Anisakiasis (disease)


It is also known as anisakosis and is a disease of parasitic origin caused by the intake of fish contaminated by Anisakis larvae, it is a common disease in countries that have a large consumption of fish.


What symptoms would you have if you are infected by Anisakis: it is most likely to cause digestive disorders or mild or even severe allergic reactions, and there may be several manifestations from urticaria to anaphylactic shock.


Allergic reactions can occur even to the dead parasite, showing that even after being treated with the recommended methods should not rule out risks for especially sensitive people.


What measures can the consumer take?


1 / Buy the fish already clean of viscera, or failing to clean it as soon as possible.

2 / Cooking at more than 60 º C for more than a minute the entire piece destroys the parasite (cooking, frying, pressing and baking would be valid).


If I want to cook it at less than 60º C?

If you want to eat it raw or cooked below the indicated temperature, you should freeze the fish, and if you have not purchased it directly frozen you should:

Freeze below -20º C for at least 5 days.

Be sure that your refrigerator reaches these cooling values.


What fish should you freeze?

1 / Anchovies in vinegar and pickled fish

2 / Sashimi, sushi, carpaccios and raw fish specialties.

3 / marinated fish, for example ceviche.

4 / Fish roe raw or practically raw.

5 / Herrings and fish in brine or lightly salted.

5 / Herrings and fish in brine or lightly salted.

6 / Cold smoked marine fish.


If you buy with this preparation the preparation must have been made by the manufacturer or producer.


Are not they necessary to freeze?

1 / Oysters, mussels, clams, clams and other bivalve molluscs.

2 / Non-marine fish, river fish, lakes, marshes and pisco freshwater factories,

3 / Semi-conserves such as anchovies that go in metal or glass containers.

4 / Dried fish salted in a traditional way, such as cod or mojama.


Legislation and preventive measures


Preventive measures are essential for the control of the disease and guidelines for reduction cover all phases of the food chain.

  • capture
  • Handling
  • Technological treatments of the processed products.
  • Recommendations aimed at collective restoration
  • Recommendations directed to the consumer.


1 / EU community requirements


Regulation CE 853/2004 of the European Parliament and the Council of April 29, 2004


Regarding the hygiene of food products, it goes on to say that the food business operators must guarantee that the fishery products have been submitted. A visual examination to dictate the parasites and that in case of contamination will not be put on the market.


It also establishes the obligation for operators that commercialize fish products that are to be consumed raw or pickled, salted or other treatment that is insufficient to kill the Anisakis parasite to subject the products to freezing at -20º C for a minimum period of 24h or -35º C for at least 15h.

This freezing is not mandatory for products that are processed at more than 60º C for more than a minute or freeze for long periods.


For more information you can consult the following sources:


About the Author

Enrique Recuero

Leave a comment