Keeping Your Seafood Safe

Reviewed by Eleese Cunningham, RDN
keeping your seafood safe


Consumers are becoming more concerned about ensuring the seafood they buy and eat is safe. Below are tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that will help keep your favorite seafood safe from the supermarket to the kitchen table.

Buying Fresh Seafood

  • Buy only from reputable sources (i.e. supermarket, seafood market, etc.)
    Base seafood purchases on quality
  • Make sure fresh seafood is properly refrigerated below 40°F
    Check to make sure packaged seafood is well-packed in ice
  • Check to make sure the flesh is shiny and firm and not separating from the bone.
    With time, the color fades from light pink, to gray to finally greenish or dull brown.
  • Make sure the odor is fresh and mild
    Fresh fish and shellfish should not have an overly "fishy" odor
  • If unwrapped cooked seafood, such as shrimp, crabs or smoked fish, is displayed in the same case as raw fish, don't buy it
    Cross-contamination may have occurred
  • To prevent foodborne illness, pregnant women, older Americans, young children and people with weakened immune systems should not eat raw seafood such as: raw fish (sushi or sashimi), raw shellfish (oysters, clams, scallops, mussels or ceviche) and seafood ordered undercooked or "rare" such as tuna carpaccio

Frozen Seafood

  • Use packaged, frozen seafood before the expiration date
    If an expiration date has passed, don't consume the product; throw it away
  • Make sure packaged seafood does not contain ice crystals indicating that the product has been previously thawed
  • Check for tightly sealed packages that are free of dents and tears

Storing Fresh Seafood

  • Refrigerate seafood immediately below 40°F after buying
    Wrap fresh seafood in cellophane or air-tight containers
    Store fresh, pasteurized or smoked seafood products at 32 to 38°F
    Use a refrigerator thermometer to ensure proper temperature
  • Store live clams, oysters, mussels, crabs, lobsters and crayfish in well ventilated containers and cover with a damp cloth or paper towel

Frozen Seafood

  • Store frozen seafood immediately at 0°F after buying or until ready to use
    Keep it in the original moisture and vapor-proof packages

Preparing Raw Seafood

  • Keep raw and cooked seafood separate to avoid cross-contamination
    Wash hands, utensils, plates and cutting boards thoroughly between handling raw seafood and cooked seafood or other ready-to-eat foods such as fresh produce
  • Use two separate cutting boards, one for raw seafood and the other for cooked seafood

Frozen Seafood

  • Follow the same preparation techniques for frozen seafood as for raw seafood
  • Prepare frozen seafood according to package directions
    Defrost frozen seafood in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave-never on the counter
  • Cook fish until it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork

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