Raw Or Fresh: Is Canned Tuna Cooked? Here's The Truth You Need To Know

Aryan Khanna
Feb 23, 2023 By Aryan Khanna
Originally Published on Nov 16, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Open canned tuna and bread

Canned tuna is one of the most rich and affordable sources of protein.

Tuna fishing takes place in more than 70 countries all across the globe and are sent to processing plants to be cleaned, cooked, and canned. The Pacific Ocean is the biggest source of tuna in the world with a high majority of tuna fish being obtained from the Pacific Ocean.

Tuna is one of the cheapest protein sources as it is white meat, and thus, cannot be used in dishes like sushi. Other forms of fresh tuna such as bluefin is used in making premium dishes like sushi.

Over the years, tuna can processing plants have shifted from the eastern Pacific region to Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand for various reasons.

One common reason is the cost of labor which is relatively cheaper in the Asian region. However, the world regions consuming the majority of canned tuna has stayed the same over the years.

Countries belonging to the European Union, Japan, and the United States are still the largest consumers of canned tuna in the world.

The biggest reason why people all over the world eat canned tuna is its high amount of protein and the versatile taste of the dish. One can eat canned tuna raw or make tuna sandwiches or tuna salad.

Out of the five different types of tuna, the two which largely comprise canned tunas are skipjack and yellowfin. Skipjack tuna is commonly known as light meat tuna and is the best kind of tuna to consume due to its high protein but low mercury levels.

Various fishing methods such as purse seine fishing and longlining are employed to catch tuna fish.

Fishing boats freeze tuna fish as soon as they catch them in order to keep them fresh and then unload them to processing plants at the soonest. At the plants, raw tuna fish is converted into the canned tuna fish you eat.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about Amphibians vs reptiles: animal differences facts simplified for kids and what is the slowest animal in the world here on Kidadl?

How is canned tuna cooked?

The entire process of delivering fresh tuna caught in the ocean to your home, packed in cans is an elaborate one. The cooking process is carried out with intensive care so as to keep it edible for long periods of time, and keep it healthy and free from any sorts of bacteria.

Along with canned tuna, you can also go for canned salmon as it also stays edible for long periods of time after being processed and is quite nutritious as well.

The first step in the process of cooking tuna begins once the tuna fish is caught. It is important to preserve tuna fish in a healthy state when they are caught by fishermen.

Once a tuna fish is caught, it is kept in freezers present in the boat so that it retains all its nutrients. The catch is then unloaded at the dock and transported to processing plants, and in order to reduce the transit time, a number of plants are constructed at close proximity to the dock.

This ensures convenience in loading and unloading and also reduces the number of times the fish has to be frozen before it reaches the plant to be cooked and further packed.

The tuna fish is them inspected at the plant and cleaned as part of a quality check. The next step now depends upon the tuna can brand.

Some tuna brands cook the fish for some time and then slice it and pack it, whereas, some brands directly hand cut frozen tuna fish and fill them into the cans.

The former method allows you to directly open the tuna can and eat it, whereas, the latter needs to be cooked when opened.

In the former process if you cook the tuna, it will be cooked twice overall which will reduce its nutritious value and also its flavor but in the latter process, cooking the tuna only once will help retain the flavors.

Once the tuna is cooked in steamer baskets, the skins and bones are removed, and it is then sliced and packed into cans. Now in order to preserve cooked tuna cans, brands use water or vegetable broth or oil and fill the cans with either one of them.

With no other added chemicals, these liquids, along with the processing techniques, vacuum sealing, and sterilizing are capable of providing a healthy shelf life of four years to these tuna cans.

On the other hand, in case of tuna cans which aren't cooked, at times some salt is added to the frozen chopped tuna to maintain the quality.

Even Ocean's canned tuna is cooked once. The final process of vacuum sealing and sterilizing plays a key role in giving these cans a quality shelf life of about three years.

Can you eat canned tuna raw?

Whether you can eat canned tuna raw or not depends upon the brand of canned tuna. The majority of brands which manufacture canned tuna, cook it before packing it but some don't.

In the case of canned tuna, it has been already cooked once so it is safe to eat in the raw version. Whether it is canned tuna or canned salmon, either of them are edible in raw form if already cooked once and there is no risk of bacterial infection as well.

When the cooked tuna is processed and sealed, it is entirely sanitized which removes bacteria.

Furthermore, as the canned fish is vacuum sealed, there is no chance of bacteria or any other microbe to contaminate the food inside. This process of canning retains the taste of the tuna and also makes the dish last longer than normal on the shelf.

You can boil the canned tuna too if you want to as it won't damage the food inside, but there is no necessity as all the possible risks were eliminated during packaging.

In order to make your food delicious, you can warm the canned tuna and mix it with mayo to add some flavor and then eat it as a side dish with pasta or add it to a tuna salad.

Some of the other most common dishes where raw tuna is used include sushi and sashimi which are both authentic Japanese dishes. The only instance when eating canned tuna can have negative health consequences is when the canning is improper and you find the seal broken.

Do not purchase any canned food if its seal is broken as even cooking won't make it safe for eating and it is better not to take any risks with your health.

Why is canned tuna cooked twice?

This is a misconception or some form of miscommunication that canned tuna is always cooked twice. The number of times canned tuna gets cooked before consumption depends upon the brand of canned tuna.

There are some tuna brands which cook the tuna once before sealing in a can along with oil or water, whereas, on the other hand there are some brands which slice the frozen tuna and place this directly into the cans.

Cooking canned tuna again and again reduces the amount of nutrients it has and also minimizes its flavor. Nutrients such as omega-3 can be lost if canned tuna is cooked multiple times before consumption.

Canned fish, whether it is tuna or canned salmon, is only cooked twice when you purchase a pre-cooked canned dish and then cook it once again after coming home.

The decision of cooking pre-cooked canned fish depends on what you want to eat.

If you want to eat a dish such as a tuna sandwich or sushi, you do not need to cook the canned fish but if you wish to eat some other item which requires cooked tuna, you will have to heat or cook it once again.

There may be some discrepancy in the taste due to multiple cooking but it will still be quite delicious and nutrient rich.

How many cans of tuna can you eat a week?

It is well known that if you warm or boil pre-cooked tuna, it can reduce its nutrient content but let us find out if tuna consumption can ever be harmful.

Any sort of canned fish is filled with fatty acids and omega-3. People usually use olive oil when they look to heat up tuna for a short period of time and this at times becomes a regular affair.

A large number of people eat fresh tuna or canned tuna or canned salmon very often but, let us find out what is the limit to this.

Interestingly, even though foods such as a tuna salad or a tuna sandwich taste so good and are so healthy, they too have some drawbacks on excessive consumption.

When consumed in large amounts, they can be bad for you as the levels of mercury in some tuna species are not fit for consumption. Consuming canned light tuna or skipjack tuna is the best for people as it has the lowest mercury levels and can be eaten for twice or thrice a week.

A quantity of 8-12 oz (227-340 g) of canned tuna per person per week is considered the optimum range.

Mercury poisoning from tuna consumption is rare but not impossible, and excessive consumption continuously for many days can lead to mercury poisoning. As a matter of fact, canned salmon has lower amounts of mercury in comparison to canned tuna.

Although among all canned fishes, mackerel and sardines are the healthiest.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Raw or fresh: is canned tuna cooked? Here's the truth you need to know, then why not take a look atDoberman vs Rottweiler faceoff: we have the winner! orbluefin tuna facts?

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Written by Aryan Khanna

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Aryan Khanna picture

Aryan KhannaBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

A dedicated and hardworking content writer currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Management Studies from St. Xavier's University, Kolkata. Aryan aims to gain corporate exposure and enhance his skills while creating well-researched and engaging content that is SEO-friendly. Aryan is a talented individual who puts in the effort to overcome any obstacle in his way.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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