Raw smoked salmon: is it safe to eat?

Raw smoked salmon: is it safe to eat?

Is raw smoked salmon safe to eat?

When we say ‘raw’ salmon we really mean cold-smoked salmon, whereby salmon goes through the smoking process at cooler temperatures than when hot-smoked.

Hot-smoking does indeed cook the fish due to the temperatures at which the fish is smoked. However, cold-smoked salmon is not fully cooked during the smoking process, retaining a raw-like temperature.


Hence, the conversation around ‘raw’ salmon is really asking the question: is cold-smoked salmon safe to eat?

In short, the answer is yes - but there are some crucial standards to ensure have been met with regards to your smoked salmon product.

Proper handling, storage and sourcing of the salmon reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Adherence to food safety guidelines in both wild-salmon fishing and salmon-farming also contribute to minimising potential risks.

And of course, vulnerable persons such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems may be advised to avoid raw or undercooked seafood so as to not be exposed to potential foodborne pathogens.

However, in general, properly prepared and handled raw salmon is considered safe to eat. The smoking and curing processes used in preparing cold-smoked salmon further contribute to the reduction of risks of bacteria and parasites being present, resulting in a safe - and delectable - product.

Knowledge is always King, so here are Smokin’ Brothers’ [hyperlink] top considerations for when purchasing - and consuming - cold-smoked salmon: 

  1. Quality and Source: Always purchase raw salmon from reputable sources that adhere to strict quality control standards. Freshness and proper handling are crucial to reducing the risk of contamination.

  2. Storage: Raw smoked salmon should always be stored at refrigeration temperatures. Follow the recommended storage guidelines provided by the manufacturer to maintain its quality and safety.

  3. Vulnerable Populations: As previously mentioned, while raw smoked salmon is generally safe for most people, certain groups are advised to avoid raw and undercooked seafood in general. For further advice about whether it is safe for you to consume this food group, we recommend consulting a healthcare professional.

  4. Hygiene Practices: Ensure you employ the highest hygiene standards when handling raw salmon. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the product, and ensure that utensils and surfaces are kept disinfected so as to prevent cross-contamination.

  5. Labelling and Regulations: Pay close attention to product labelling, and always adhere to any specific guidelines or warnings provided by health authorities or food safety organisations regarding the consumption of raw or lightly processed seafood.


Perhaps the most common misconception or misbelief regarding raw salmon is that the smoking process fully cooks the fish.

In reality, while the smoking process imparts that delicious smoky flavour we all love, and contributes to the preservation of the fish, cold-smoked salmon is not fully cooked during this process, retaining a texture similar to raw fish.

As such, our five considerations above are a prudent measure to employ as a consumer of raw/cold-smoked salmon.

The Smokin’ Brothers’ final thoughts: 

Safe to consume raw/cold-smoked salmon is always directly correlated to the quality of the fish. And the quality is always directly correlated to the source of the salmon, the techniques used to smoke the salmon, and the health and safety protocols employed by the company.

Raw smoked salmon is safe for consumption - when prepared, and produced - correctly. As a consumer, make informed choices when purchasing raw smoked salmon and always buy from transparent, top quality providers.

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