George Chang wrote:
Subject: salmon with flesh dissolving
Date: 17 March 1998 00:52

A friend noticed liquifaction of salmon flesh upon cooking...

I was poaching a whole salmon in its skin. When I checked to see if it was cooked, I saw that the flesh had turned liquid.  I returned it to the butcher. He said that 2 out of the 10 cases of salmon were like that. Normally, they notice the problem when the salmon is bought.  He said it is a parasite. Do you know which one? These salmon are farmed. The butcher tells me even wild salmon have this parasite.   Could anyone tell us more about this problem? Is it a new problem? Or one that has grown rapidly in recent years?  Maybe like the incidence of anisakid parasites that folks in Seattle were studying?

Peter Howgate Wrote:

Very likely due to severe infestation by the protozoan parasite Hennugya salminicola. It secretes a proteolytic enzyme which dissolves flesh. Similar to the myxosporidium parasites which cause milky hake. The  infestation is typically seen in the raw flesh as pale circular or oval patches which have a thick creamy texture when pressed. The patches are very obvious when the flesh is smoked. I have seen it in Pacific salmon imported into the UK, but I do not recall reading or hearing of any incidence in Atlantic salmon.

There is a short account of the prevalence of the parasite in Pacific salmon in Patashnik, M. & Groninger, H, (1964), Observations on the milky condition in some Pacific Coast fishes, J. Fish. Res. Bd. Canada, 21, 335-346, but I do not a more recent reference.

Peter Howgate