Fresh Seafood: Food Safety Guide

Fresh Seafood: Food Safety Guide

Nothing is more delicious and healthful than a platter of fresh seafood. Rich in protein and other essential nutrients, fish and shellfish are key to any well-balanced diet. As with any other food, the preparation of seafood is intricate and requires proper handling to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Read on for our tips on selecting and serving seafood safely.


I. Buying


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  • When buying fish and shrimp, ensure that the fish is properly refrigerated or displayed on a thick bed of ice.
  • Look for fish that smell fresh and mild, not fishy, sour or ammonia-like.
  • Fish’s eyes should be clear and bulge a little.
  • Whole fish and fillets should have firm, shiny flesh, and bright red gills free from milky slime.
  • Fish fillets should display no discolouration, darkening or drying around the edges.
  • Shrimp flesh should be translucent and shiny with little or no odour.
  • Shells of clams, mussels and oysters should be whole, not cracked or broken.
  • Select shellfish by doing a “tap” test. Live shellfish should close up when the shell is tapped. Otherwise, do not select them.
  • Live crabs and lobsters should show some leg movement. They spoil rapidly after death, so only live crabs and lobsters should be selected and prepared.


II. Storing


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  • To prevent seafood from spoiling, place it in the refrigerator or freezer soon after buying it.
  • If seafood will be used within 2 days after purchase, store it in the refrigerator. Otherwise, wrap it tightly in plastic, foil, or moisture-proof paper and store it in the freezer.
  • Ensure that cooked seafood is stored separately from the raw seafood to prevent cross-contamination.


III. Preparing, Cooking & Serving


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  • Practise good kitchen habits. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling raw food. Ensure that cutting boards, dishes and utensils and countertops are clean. Sanitise them thoroughly after use.
  • Thaw frozen seafood gradually by placing it in the refrigerator overnight. Never leave seafood and other perishable items out on the counter for thawing.
  • Ensure that seafood is properly cooked. For example, for fish, the flesh should be opaque and separate easily with a fork. The shells of shellfish should open during cooking. Discard if otherwise.
  • When serving, ensure that hot seafood dishes are kept hot and cold dishes kept cold. Cold seafood platters should be kept on ice.