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Black thready things in frozen tilapia

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Hi everyone. I'm a sort-of longtime lurker, first-time poster :) Nice to be here!

I've bought frozen tilapia in 2lb bags from Costco a few times now. Can't remember if it's the loins or fillets (I think it's the loins- I don't know fish anatomy well :P) Reason being that it's quick to thaw and quick to cook, so it makes a fairly easy dinner. However last time I bought tilapia, one of the pieces had these very thin, black thread-like things in its flesh. I cooked the fish fully and figured they're probably harmless, but they still kind of squicked me out, especially as I had not seen them in other pieces before. They only showed up after I flaked the fish a bit- they weren't on the surface. Also, the tilapia already comes de-boned (another convenience.)

What are these thready black things? Are they harmless, as I suspect?

Bonus question: are there any seriously harmful long-term effects of eating lots of tilapia? By lots I mean maybe 3-4 loins a week, and the loins aren't huge or anything. Of course I'm going to work some different kinds of fish in there too, like salmon, but since the tilapia is relatively cheap I'd be eating a lot of it. I live in Las Vegas, if that helps.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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  1. Drawing a blank on the threads, maybe bit of skin from the skinning process?

    Re harm eating lots of it, there is ALWAYS someone who will say you are are harming yourself by eating anything, you have to learn to tune those people out. Tilapia is a great source of low-fat protein. You aren't getting the Omega 3 that you get from ocean fish but it's still a very healthy thing to eat.

    1. I know what you are talking about - I have seen it in other white fish too. It's part of the fish, what it is I don't know (nor do I want to...) so it is safe to eat.

      I think eating a lot of tilapia is ok - what you want to be careful of are the fatty fish and the bottom feeders. Bottom feeders, because who knows what they're eating. Fatty fish, because they have higher mercury content.

      I Googled "tilapia risks" and there are some interesting things out there, you may want to research yourself.

      1. I'm an "everything in moderation" gal, so I'm going to say that I personally wouldn't consider it healthy to be eating Tilapia (or anything else specific for that matter) 3-4 times per week.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bacardi1

          It's just a protein source. The concern over mercury (relatively low in tilapia) may have some validity, and the omega ratio debate is vaguely interesting from a medical perspective, but your point I don;t quite understand. Plenty of people eat "something specific" on a daily basis, be it bread, milk, some kind of cereal, heck even apples. How is that a health concern?

        2. Where is it imported from? If you are eating it that frequently you need to understand how it is raised and most tilapia production in Asia is some nasty, nasty aquaculture. Domestic production like farmed catfish is much, much cleaner. Look up "honey pot" if you want to better understand.

          1. Like I said no matter WHAT food you eat, someone will come along and say it is dangerous to eat it.

            1. Not sure what the black things are, but if you do buy tilapia, just make sure it's not from China. Other farms are okay, like Thailand and the United States, and South America. I heard China has the worst quality farm raised seafood due to their dubious practices.