Is raw squid safe to eat?

You find yourself at a lively seafood restaurant for an evening filled with laughter, camaraderie, and your shared passion for the diverse flavors of seafood. Among the many options, one catches your eye – a raw squid dish. You’re tempted but simultaneously intrigued and hesitant. Is it safe to eat raw squid? This question lingers in your mind as you contemplate the culinary adventure ahead.

A Glimpse at Raw Seafood

Raw seafood is a staple in many parts of the world. From the sushi restaurants of Tokyo to the ceviche stands in Peru, uncooked seafood, including raw squid, has a prized place in many culinary traditions. However, with the rise of these exotic dishes, concerns about their safety have also emerged.

These concerns often revolve around the potential risks associated with consuming raw or undercooked seafood, like food poisoning caused by harmful bacteria. On the other hand, seafood is known for its high nutritional value, providing essential nutrients like fatty acids and Vitamin B that are beneficial for the human body.

Key Takeaways

  • Raw squid, while rich in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B, carries potential risks such as foodborne illnesses and allergic reactions.
  • Safe consumption of raw squid hinges on responsible sourcing, proper handling, and thorough preparation.
  • While raw squid is a popular delicacy worldwide, certain groups, like pregnant women and pets, should be especially cautious due to specific health risks.

Nutrient-Rich Delicacy

Squid, in particular, is a great source of protein and a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Not to mention, it’s also an excellent source of Vitamin B, which plays a significant role in maintaining heart health and boosting the immune system. This nutritional value makes squid one of the best choices for those seeking a healthy food addition to their diet.

The charm of squid goes beyond its nutrients. The unique chewy texture of squid meat, whether it’s served in small pieces in a salad or as a whole squid on a plate, adds an interesting dimension to many dishes. However, this chewy texture can turn into a rubbery texture if not prepared right. And that’s where cooking squid comes in.

Preparing Squid: The Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do: Cook squid quickly on high heat, or slowly on low, to avoid a rubbery texture.
  • Don’t: Leave squid at room temperature for a long time as it can increase the risk of foodborne illness.
  • Do: Clean the squid thoroughly before cooking or consuming it to remove any harmful bacteria or nematode larvae.

Raw vs Cooked 

While raw squid dishes, like raw calamari, are popular in different parts of the world, many people prefer their squid cooked. In fact, cooking squid not only enhances its flavor but also ensures that any potentially harmful bacteria, such as Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, are killed.

Health Risks 

One of the main health risks associated with consuming raw squid is food poisoning, which can cause symptoms like loss of appetite, vomiting, and in severe cases, can even affect the nervous system. Moreover, raw squid might harbor parasites that can lead to parasitic diseases in humans.

Allergic Reactions

For some, eating raw squid can trigger allergic reactions. Seafood allergy is a common type of food allergy and can cause a range of side effects from mild symptoms to severe anaphylaxis.

Pregnant Women 

Pregnant women are advised to avoid raw seafood, including raw squid, due to the risk of foodborne illnesses and high levels of mercury in certain types of seafood like king mackerel. These potential risks can negatively impact both the mother and the unborn child.

➡️See USDA guidelines for serving raw seafood

Raw Squid for Cats: A Good Idea or Not?

In small amounts, raw squid can be a healthy addition to your cat’s regular cat food. It can supply essential nutrients and fatty acids that contribute to your cat’s health. However, too much squid can lead to health problems like zinc poisoning due to thiamine breakdown, a concern commonly known among cat owners.

Nutritious but Risky

Squid is indeed a good source of Omega-3, a fatty acid beneficial for a cat’s immune system. The high protein content also makes it a tempting supplement to your cat’s diet. However, feeding raw squid, or any raw seafood, to your cat can expose them to the same health risks humans face—foodborne illnesses caused by harmful bacteria.

Mercury Concerns

While squid generally has lower mercury levels compared to other seafood, feeding your cat too much squid can lead to mercury poisoning. This can cause a variety of symptoms in your cat, including loss of appetite, lethargy, and in severe cases, damage to the nervous system.

Choking Hazard

Squid’s chewy texture, especially when served in bite-sized pieces, can pose a choking hazard for your cat. If you decide to treat your cat with squid, ensure it’s cut into small, manageable pieces.

Global Delicacy

Despite the potential risks, raw squid remains a popular food product worldwide. From raw calamari in Italy to live squid in Korea, different types of squid dishes are enjoyed by many. Let’s explore some of the most popular ways squid is served raw across the globe.

Squid Sashimi in Japan

In Japan, squid, often served as sashimi, is enjoyed raw. Usually sliced into thin, small pieces, the squid is often dipped in soy sauce with a dab of wasabi. The freshness of the squid and its slightly sweet taste makes it a favorite among sushi lovers.

Live Squid in Korea

In Korea, live squid, known as ‘sannakji,’ is a popular dish. The squid is typically cut into small pieces while still alive and served immediately, usually with a splash of sesame oil. The dish is known for its chewy texture and is a testament to the adventurous spirit of Korean cuisine.

Raw Calamari in the Mediterranean

In the Mediterranean, raw calamari, a type of squid, is often marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. The acid in the lemon juice ‘cooks’ the squid, softening its chewy texture and imparting a refreshing citrus flavor.

➡️You may be interested in this Rockfish Ceviche recipe

Safe Consumption

Despite the risks, raw squid can be safely consumed if sourced from reputable sources and prepared correctly. Here are some best practices to keep in mind.

Source your Squid Responsibly

When it comes to raw seafood, the freshness of the product is paramount. Squid should be purchased from reputable sources, ensuring it has been stored and handled properly to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Keep it Cold

Once you’ve got your fresh squid, ensure it’s kept cold. Store it in the refrigerator or on ice to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Never leave raw squid at room temperature for a long time.

Clean it Properly

Before consuming raw squid, ensure it’s cleaned thoroughly. This includes removing the internal parts, rinsing it under cold water, and patting it dry.


So, is raw squid safe to eat? The answer is, it depends. While raw squid is a popular delicacy in many parts of the world, it does carry potential risks like foodborne illnesses and allergic reactions. Therefore, it’s essential to source it responsibly, handle it properly, and consume it in moderation.

In conclusion, raw squid, like any other raw seafood, requires cautious handling and consumption. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with preparing raw squid at home, trying it at a reputable restaurant is the best option. After all, it’s not just about the food, but also the experience – and there’s nothing quite like the experience of tasting a well-prepared squid dish, cooked or raw, in the hands of a skilled chef.

So next time you find yourself at that seafood market, looking at a tank full of raw squid, remember what you’ve learned here today. And whatever you choose, cooked or raw, enjoy your squid in the safest and most delicious way possible!