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Seafood Safety Tips

Seafood Safety Tips

Follow these safety tips to enjoy your seafood safely year-round!

Seafood Safety

  • Know your seafood seller
  • Purchase Seafood Carefully
  • Keep Seafood's Cold
  • Keep "Live" shellfish "Alive"
  • Refrigerate Live Shellfish Properly
  • Don't Cross-Contaminate
  • Cook Seafood Thoroughly
  • Never refreeze previously frozen seafood
  • Freeze Fish Before Making Sashimi, Sushi, Ceviche, Gravlaz, or Cold-Smoked Fish
  • Cook fresh fish within two days.
  • Rinse seafood in cold water to remove surface bacteria.
  • The safest way to defrost seafood is in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
  • Always marinate seafood in the refrigerator, not on the countertop.
  • If a slightly opened clam, oyster, or mussel doesn't shut when tapped upon, discard it.
  • Fresh shellfish should be alive when purchased.

Mercury Madness

Canned Tuna The Food and Drug Administration warns that certain fish are high in mercury. These include:

  • King mackerel
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish

Tuna is one of the most popular foods on grocery store shelves that contains mercury. Back in 2000, the FDA drafted advisories for focus groups to warn women not to eat a lot of canned tuna during pregnancy. This is because the tuna contains levels of mercury that can harm developing fetuses and nursing babies. In March 2004, the FDA and the EPA issued the first ever joint advisory on this topic which was titled, "What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish".

Until the 1950's, the potential problems from excessive mercury intake were not well-known. At that time, an epidemic hit fishermen and their families in villages on Japan's Minamata Bay. People whose ate primarily seafood showed signs of brain damage; some were even fatally stricken with disease and seizures. The investigation linked the health problems to methylmercury poisoning from a local chemical plant that was discharging organic mercury into the bay. (Source: PBS)

Visit the "Got Mercury?" calculator External Link from the Sea Turtle Restoration Project to help you make healthier seafood choices.

Recommendations 'Round the World

  • Health Canada has advised consumers to limit consumption of swordfish, shark or fresh and frozen tuna to one meal per week. Young children and women of child-bearing age, are recommendeded a limit of one meal per month.
  • Britain's Food Standards Agency is advises pregnant and breastfeeding women and women who intend to become pregnant to limit consumption of tuna to no more than two medium size cans or one fresh tuna steak per week.
  • In the United States, women are hearing different advice from different sources, especially where tuna is concerned.

Notable Note: If you are going to the Caribbean, Florida or Hawaii and plan on eating tropical fish, it would be best to call the fish safety hotline (look up in the respective area phone book or online) to help you avoid ciguatera poisoning. They can tell you the current fish with problems.

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