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How to know if seafood is fresh


Tips for seafood consumers

While a large responsibility rests on the industry's shoulder to deliver a safe product to
retail stores and seafood markets, consumers must share the responsibility by properly
handling and preparing their seafood.

I only purchase fish at the fishing beach from the fishermen. However, those who buy fish or seafood at the supermarket or fish market, you should know.

How To Purchase:
1) Know your seafood seller buy product from approved, reputable licensed stores or markets
with evidence of good refrigeration, icing and sanitation.
2) Never buy swollen, dented cans or containers of fish and seafood.

Fresh Fish: How to know if a fish is fresh
1) Fresh fish should have a mild sea breeze odour. A strong, fishy odour generally is not
Whole fresh fish should have bright, clear and shiny eyes. Scales should be shiny and cling
tightly to the skin. Look for bright pink or red gills.
2) Steaks and fillets should be moist and free of drying or browning around the edges.
3) At the market, make sure that cooked seafood products are not in contact with raw seafood
products in the display case.


Frozen Fish:
1) Make sure the packages are undamaged and fillets or steaks are solidly frozen in
2) Fish should be free of Ice crystals and freezer burn (i.e. discoloration or drying.)
3) Avoid packages that are above the front line in a store's display freezer.

Fresh Shellfish:
1) "Shell on" products such as mussels, clams, and oysters should be purchase alive.
Shells of live clams, mussels and oysters may gape naturally but will close tightly when
tapped, indicating that they are alive.
2) Live crabs and lobsters will show some leg movement.
3) Live lobster will curl their tail tightly beneath them when handled .
4) Freshly shucked oysters and scallops have a fresh odour. A clear, slightly milky or light
grey liquid should surround freshly shucked oyster.
5) If in doubt about the source of raw oysters, clams and mussels, ask seafood market
personnel to show you the certified shipper's tag that accompanies "shell on" products
or check the shipper number on the container of shucked oysters.

Frozen Shellfish:

1) Be sure that shellfish is packed in closefitting, moisture proof containers.
2) Frozen prepared items such as crab cakes or breaded shrimp should be frozen solid
with no sign of freezer burn (i.e. discoloration or drying) and no unpleasant odour.

How to Store/Handle Seafood
1) Get seafood purchases home and into the refrigerator as quickly as possible. Don't leave
perishable items in hot cars for extended period, unless packed in ice or in a cooler.

2) Keep seafood products cold to keep them safe. Maintain your refrigerator temperature
between 34 degrees F and 40 degrees F and your freezer at 0 degrees F or colder.

3) Store fresh fish in its original wrapper in the coldest part of the refrigerator - under the
freezer or in the "meat keeper" drawer. If you are not going  to use your seafood within one
or two days of purchase, freeze it. However, do not refreeze previously frozen products.

4) Oysters, clams and mussels should be refrigerated in containers with clean, damp cloths -
not with airtight lids. Use fresh shellfish within one to two days.

5) Keep frozen fish and shellfish frozen at 0 degrees F and for best quality use them within
three to six months. The longer these foods are frozen, the more likely they are to lose flavour,
texture and moisture.

6) Pasteurized products such as crabmeat can be stored up to six months in the refrigerator.
Once opened, use within three to five days. (Pasteurized products should not be frozen.)

7) Stored canned seafood in a cool, dry place for up to one year.

8) Refrigerator or freeze leftovers immediately in moisture proof packages or containers.


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