October is National Seafood Month

Summer food, rose colored fish steak in a wine marinadeIn honor of National Seafood Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has put together some great seafood food safety tips. A sampling is below but head over to its seafood web page to view all of the information.

When buying fresh fish, shrimp and shellfish

  • Fresh fish should smell “fresh and mild, not fishy, sour or ammonia-like”. The flesh should be firm and shiny (and bounce back if pressed).
  • Shrimp also shouldn’t have much odor and should be shiny and translucent.
  • Always check the labels on bags or containers of live shellfish for the proper certification numbers. Nix cracked or broken oysters, clams and mussels.

Storage and preparation

  • Refrigerate seafood if it’s going to be used within two days. If not, store it in the freezer.
  • Thaw seafood in the fridge – not at room temperature.
  • Separate cooked food from raw seafood. That means using different utensils, cutting boards, plates, etc. or thoroughly washing them in between use with cooked and raw items. Bacteria from raw items or their juices can contaminate cooked products.

Cooking and serving

  • As a general rule, seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. For fish, shrimp, lobster and scallops, the flesh will turn opaque when fully cooked. However, it is best to check the temperature with a food thermometer to ensure it has reached a safe temperature.
  • As with all perishable foods, seafood should not be out of the fridge for more than two hours. That time drops to one hour if the temperature is 90°F or more. Bacteria can flourish between 40 and 140°F so keeping food at a proper temperature is vital.
  • Like with other foods, keep hot dishes hot (above 140°F) and cold dishes cold (below 40°F).

To read the full list of tips from FDA, click here.

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