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Cook that salmon!

August 21, 2008 |  3:40 pm

When Jon Rowley talks about salmon, you’d better listen, even if he’s saying something you might not like. Rowley is the Seattle food marketer who “invented” the Copper River salmon, setting up the marketing program that rescued one of the truly great fish of the world from the cannery. And Thursday he published a piece on the Gourmet magazine website explaining why you should never eat raw salmon unless it has been frozen.

“Salmon tartare — eye-catching, fun, hip and tasty — has become a popular menu item in many top restaurants. Celebrity chefs prepare it on television. Mainstream magazines, newspapers, and cookbooks feature recipes. Raw salmon dishes — tartare, crudo, sushi, marinated and cured salmon—are growing in popularity. But unless that fish has been frozen first, it would be wise to pass,” he writes.

That’s because of Diphyllobothrium latum, a tiny tapeworm larva that is carried by freshwater fish. (though salmon live most of their lives in the ocean, they are born and spawn in rivers.) The only way to prevent it, Rowley writes, is to freeze the salmon at below minus-31 degrees for more than 15 hours.

Rowley’s piece comes on the heels of a Chicago man suing a restaurant for a tapeworm he claims he ingested while eating an undercooked salmon salad in 2006. That tapeworm grew to 9 feet long before it was removed. Rowley says some worms have been found that were as long as 30 feet. Though they are not fatal, they can result in anemia.

-- Russ Parsons