In the United States, cod is one of the top ten most-consumed fish. In 2017, individuals ate an average of 0.66 pounds per person per year. However, even with that much consumption, one question remains: is cod safe to eat medium-rare? Let’s find out.
Cod is generally unsafe to eat if it’s undercooked or medium-rare. The primary danger of eating undercooked cod is the cod worm, a nematode commonly found in the fish. Cod worm dies when the meat is cooked to the proper temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can you eat medium-rare or undercooked cod?
Some animals and fish don’t pose many significant health risks if you eat them raw or undercooked. Some examples of fish you can eat raw include tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Cod does not fall into that category because it can contain parasites called cod worms.
While these parasites are not necessarily present in all codfish, there is a greater chance of encountering them compared to other species. The only way to remove these worms from the fish is to cook the meat thoroughly to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
How can you tell if cod is undercooked?
The simplest way to determine if your cod is undercooked is to stick a fork in the thickest part of the meat and twist. If the fish is still semi-raw, it will appear slightly translucent and won’t separate into flakes.
Another way to tell if your cod is undercooked is if you use a meat thermometer and it doesn’t read 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If the number is lower, there’s a good chance that your cod isn’t ready yet.
How to know if cod is cooked
One of the best ways to cook fish is to use the 10-minute method. With this method, you measure the fish at the thickest section. Then you cook the meat for 10 minutes per inch. So, if your cod fillet measures two inches, you cook it for 20 minutes. You also need to flip the fish halfway through the cooking time.
Once it’s finished, you can use the fork or thermometer method we described above. If you twist a fork at the thickest part, the meat should flake off and be an opaque white color. If you use a meat thermometer, the readout should be at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
What happens if you eat undercooked cod?
If any parasites are still alive in your cod, they can cause severe illness and health issues. Common side effects of cod worm infection can include:
- Stomach Pain
- Abdominal Cramps
If you experience any of these symptoms after eating raw or undercooked cod, you should seek medical attention immediately. These parasites can sometimes pass through your digestive system without attaching themselves to your organs. Fortunately, fish worms are not transmissible from person to person.
Can you eat frozen cod raw?
While cooking cod is a reliable way to kill any parasites, another option is to freeze the fish. However, keep in mind that the meat needs to be fully frozen, including at the thickest section. Unfortunately, many home freezers are incapable of chilling fish to that degree.
If the cod was fully frozen for 15 hours or more, it should be safe to eat in any condition. That said, cod is not very tasty when eaten raw. It has a strong fishy odor and taste, and the ice crystals may damage internal tissues within the fish.
Overall, cod is a delicious fish when cooked correctly but can be potentially harmful if it isn’t. Knowing this information can help you make smarter decisions when preparing and eating your next meal. Enjoy!