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This Month In Life
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  • Seafood Safety
    While seafood can be an important part of a healthy diet, it can also come with dangers if not harvested from safe waters, stored properly, or prepared correctly. So eat more seafood, but make sure it’s safe. Here’s how. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Seafood Safety

From bacteria to chemical contaminants, how safe is your seafood?

Looking to add more quality protein to your diet? Look no further than seafood. One three-ounce serving of seafood provides a third of your recommended daily amount of protein. Besides being high in protein, why else should you eat more seafood? How about the fact that it’s low in calories and saturated fat, easy to digest, and rich in healthy fats and essential nutrients?

Want more? The omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood are an effective way to reduce your risk of heart disease and the high levels of vitamins are good for your bones, eyes, skin, and immune system.

Nutrition guidelines recommend eating fish or shellfish at least twice a week, but many people skip the grocery store seafood section or restaurant menu seafood selections altogether. Don’t let that be you! But don’t get foolhardy with your fish purchases either. While seafood can be an important part of a healthy diet, it can also come with dangers if not harvested from safe waters, stored properly, or prepared correctly. So eat more seafood, but make sure it’s safe. Here’s how.

Safe Purchase

All fish should be stored in refrigerators or on ice. If you ever smell a fishy, sour smell, keep walking. When buying a whole fish, look at the fish eyes and make sure they clear and sticking out a little bit. There should be no milky liquid around the gills. Fillets of fish should be uniform in color with no darkening or dry areas around the edges.

When purchasing fresh shrimp, look for ones that are shiny and translucent and have no odor. Since lobsters and crabs spoil quickly, only purchase them alive and kicking.

Shellfish in the shell should be in containers or packages labeled with the processor’s certification number showing they were harvested under national safety regulations. Toss out any shellfish with cracked shells. If you’re looking for live shellfish, tap the shell. Live oysters, mussels, and clams will close up when tapped.

Safe Storage

Cold temperatures keep bacteria from multiplying. Going to prepare your seafood within two days of purchase? Keep it refrigerated in a container that prevents cross-contamination with other foods. Not planning to eat your seafood for several days? Wrap it securely and place it in the freezer.

Safe Preparation

To prevent bacteria from contaminating seafood or raw seafood from contaminating the kitchen, follow rules about safe preparation. Wash all hands, dishes, utensils, and countertops that come in contact with raw seafood. The best way to thaw frozen seafood is in the refrigerator overnight. Otherwise place it in a sealed plastic bag under cold water. Immediate, quick thawing can carefully be done in the microwave.

In order to kill any bacteria, cook seafood until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Prefer your seafood raw? Make sure it’s been previously frozen. Freezing usually kills most parasites, but not all of them all the time. For this reason, pregnant women, the elderly, kids, and immune-compromised folks should avoid raw seafood.

Safe Seas

Safe seafood isn’t only about storage and preparation. Some seafood contains toxins that naturally occur. This is why it’s important to only eat seafood from known, reputable manufacturers. Other seafood contains pollutants and contaminants from their environment. A few of the most concerning contaminants include mercury, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxins.

Mercury is known to harm brain and nervous system development in babies and children. For this reason, pregnant women and kids are advised against eating swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel for their high levels of mercury.