SAFE SEAFOOD SELECTION
Now that summer is here and the kids are out of school, our thoughts turn to trips to the shore and, of course, a great seafood dinner. Many folks like to return from the beach with a nice cooler of fresh fish and shellfish. Here are a few tips before you make that purchase and return home:
- Be sure you are buying your seafood from a reputable vendor. Many times you may be tempted to go with the best price. The savings may not be worth the risk. Always use a certified dealer when purchasing fish. You will note the employees in clean clothing, wearing hair coverings and disposable gloves. Ask the locals where they buy their fish or check with the game and wildlife agency for the area.
- Pack your seafood in ice. Most reputable vendors will have ice available and will pack your cooler for you to ensure you return home with a fresh product.
- Be sure that each type of fish or shellfish is packed separately.
- Purchase fish with a fresh mild odor/no fishy smell.
- Make sure the skin is firm to the touch and “springs back” into place.
- Do not buy cooked seafood displayed with raw fish.
Remember, fish is an important part of a balanced diet. Fish and shellfish contain high quality protein and other essential nutrients. It is low in fat and contains omega-3 fatty acids. A well balanced diet that includes a variety of fish or shellfish can contribute to heart health.
How much fish should you consume on a regular basis? Eat up to 12 ounces or two meals a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury. Some of the fish to avoid (especially when one is pregnant or nursing or may become pregnant) are as follows:
- Sword Fish
- King Mackerel
- Tile Fish
The most commonly eaten fish that are low in Mercury are:
- Canned light tuna
*Please note, albacore or white tuna has more mercury than canned tuna.
If you are planning on fishing and bringing home your catch, again, be sure you have plenty of ice and pack different varieties of fish in separate containers. You will also want to check the local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in local lakes, rivers and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to six ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don’t consume any other fish that week.
Follow these simple guidelines for preparing your seafood feast:
- Wash hands with soap and warm water.
- Wash cutting boards, knives, utensils and counter tops in hot, soapy water.
- Separate each type of fish-don’t cross contaminate.
- Keep cooked, hot fish above 140 degrees and always reheat leftovers to 165 degrees
- Keep refrigerated foods at 40 degrees or colder in the refrigerator
- Keep food at 0 degrees or colder in the freezer
- Defrost frozen fish in the refrigerator, cold water or microwave. Never on the counter.
Now that you have the facts, go ahead and try your hand at fishing or at least bring some of the beach home with you knowing you have done all that you can to ensure a great dining experience.