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Seafood Safety

By on March 23, 2014

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthful diet. In fact, a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children’s growth and development. But, as with any type of food, it’s important to handle seafood safely in order to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Following these 3 recommendations for selecting and eating fish or shellfish, women and young children will receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury.

  1. Do not eat
    • Shark
    • Swordfish
    • King Mackerel
    • Tilefish

    They contain high levels of mercury.

  2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
    • Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
    • Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (“white”) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
  3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas.If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don’t consume any other fish during that week.

 

Fish Buying Guide

Only buy fish that is refrigerated or displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice that is not melting (preferably in a case or under some type of cover).

  • Fish should smell fresh and mild, not fishy, sour, or ammonia-like.
  • A 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.
  • The flesh should spring back when pressed.
  • Fish fillets should display no discoloration, darkening or drying around the edges.
  • Shrimp flesh should be translucent and shiny with little or no odor.
  • Some refrigerated seafood may have time/temperature indicators on their packaging, which show if the product has been stored at the proper temperature.  Always check the indicators when they are present and only buy the seafood if the indicator shows that the product is safe to eat.

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