Raw, semi-cooked meat, seafood can kill, warn health officials

FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2022

A survey conducted by the Health Service Support Department found that 28 per cent of Thais are at risk of contracting parasites and bacterial infections because they like eating uncooked meat and seafood.

Tharet Kranaiawiwong, director-general of the Health Service Support Department, said the survey covered 113,847 respondents nationwide from March 5 to 31.

Of the 28 per cent who enjoy raw food, 22.2 per cent said they like eating uncooked seafood like somtam (spicy papaya salad) with raw shrimp, squid or crab.

He said 10.9 per cent said they liked eating raw freshwater fish, shrimp, oysters and crabs in sour and spicy salads, 7.3 per cent enjoy raw or slightly cooked meat in traditional Isaan dishes like larb, and 5.9 per cent go for raw pork.

Tharet said the survey proved that this group’s dangerous eating style can cause long-term illness.

He also warned that blanching or plunging meat in hot water for a short time does not kill bacteria, parasites or parasite eggs. He said those who enjoy eating raw crab may end up eating parasite larvae, which can settle in the lungs and stay there for at least a month. In some cases, the parasite can kill the host, he said.

Those who enjoy raw pork can also be infected with Streptococcus suis, a pathogen that lives in pigs, which can cause hearing impairment and high fever. It can also kill the patient, he said.

Dr Arkhom Praditsuwan, deputy director-general of the Health Service Support Department, said Thais should change their behaviour and consume freshly cooked food to avoid bacteria and parasite infections.