Seafood is an essential element in a healthy and well-balanced diet. That being said, it’s important to follow proper food safety guidelines to avoid inconvenient (and sometimes harmful) situations that may be caused by food poisoning or seafood poisoning.
A lot can go wrong after you ingest bad seafood products.
Take, for example, the victims involved in the Tomi seafood lawsuit. Those who ingested affected Tomi dried seafood products suffered from common botulism symptoms, including:
- double vision
- blurred vision,
- drooping eyelids
- slurred speech
- difficulty swallowing
- dry mouth
- muscle weakness
These symptoms can not only affect a person’s overall wellness, but they may also deter a worker’s productivity at work.
If you’ve recently been a victim of seafood poisoning, getting the help of an experienced product liability firm like Schmidt & Clark, LLP can help you get a beneficial settlement in exchange for the suffering these products have put you through.
To further protect yourself, below we’ve made a list of five (5) ways to avoid food poisoning from seafood.
When Buying Seafood
Not all suppliers of seafood and seafood products are reliable. Some of them pay no attention to safety guidelines and forgo all the necessary steps to ensure that their goods are okay to consume.
Here’s what we recommend you do when you’re buying seafood:
- Only buy from reputable and reliable sources, like seafood markets and grocery stores.
- Only buy fresh seafood that is properly refrigerated or is displayed on a thick (clean) bed of ice
- If the fish’s flesh has started to separate from the bone or has lost its natural firmness, this could be an indication that the fish has already gone bad — avoid it at all cost
- Check the odor — fresh fish should smell mildly of seawater rather than an overly fishy stench
- Be wary of cooked and uncooked seafood that are stored in the same case
- If you’re buying pre-packaged seafood, make sure that these are tightly sealed and are free from any rips and tears
- If packaged seafood is starting to show ice crystals, it’s best to avoid them; this is usually a sign that the seafood has already been thawed and refrozen
- When shopping for seafood, try and pick it up toward the end of your trip
- At the counter, ask the bagger to put seafood in a separate bag or container from your other goods
When Storing Seafood
There’s a proper and improper way to store seafood at home. Seafood is more perishable than most goods you buy from the market, which is why it’s important that it’s properly handled and stored.
When it comes to storing seafood, there are generally three main rules: Keep it cold, keep it clean, and store it quickly.
As soon as you get home from the grocery store or seafood market, wrap your goods in cellophane or place them in an air-tight container. Once done, bring them to the freezer and store them in the coldest corner to keep them fresh. Make sure the temperature in your freezer is set to 40°F or lower. Otherwise, the seafood you bought may lose quality and deteriorate quickly.
Consider bringing a cooler with you to the seafood market. This can help keep your seafood fresh and stable during the drive home.
Other guidelines to consider:
- Use fresh seafood within one to two days after it is bought
- Keep packaged seafood in their original packaging until ready to use
- If you’ve purchased live clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops, place them in a shallow pan and cover them up with a moistened paper towel before refrigerating; these should be eaten within two to three days after purchased
- It’s a good idea to date packages, so you don’t end up going over the designated best-before date
When storing leftovers, make sure they are properly wrapped and are refrigerated within two hours after being cooked.
When Preparing Seafood
To avoid cross-contamination, all foods should be prepared in a clean and sanitized area. Furthermore, it’s encouraged that you use two separate cutting boards: one for raw ingredients and another for cooked foods.
Remember to always wash your hands before and after handling food, as well as preparing utensils for cooking and/or eating. Never let raw seafood come in contact with already cooked meals.
Furthermore, when thawing fresh seafood, make sure to put them in a secure container that can catch the juices from the raw food. These liquids can easily contaminate other ingredients. To help frozen seafood defrost faster, consider placing them under running water or in the microwave. Don’t leave them out on the counter.
When Cooking Seafood
Marinading is a great way to infuse flavor into your seafood products. However, these marinades should never be recycled to use as sauces later on. Unless you heat the marinade at a temperature of 165°F to eliminate microorganisms from the raw fish.
Always marinate raw seafood in the refrigerator, in a glass or plastic container, to avoid bacteria build-up.
When you finally start cooking your seafood, make sure to cook the fish at an internal temperature of 145°F or until it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. This will help prevent foodborne illnesses caused by harmful germs, bacteria, parasites, and viruses from developing.
If you’re not as savvy with the stove or grill, you can use a food thermometer to get the temperature right.
In the case of cooking scallops and shrimp, expect the seafood to turn opaque and firm once it’s fully cooked. Meanwhile, shells such as clams, mussels, and oysters become plump and will open up.
Always get rid of shells that stay closed after cooking. This often means the shell has gone bad or is not safe for eating.
When Eating Seafood
We don’t need to tell you how important it is for you to wash your hands before and after eating. Make sure the utensils you’re using haven’t touched any juices or flesh from raw or uncooked seafood. Furthermore, if you have a weakened immune system, are of advanced age, or are pregnant, it would be safer to limit the amount of seafood you eat.
The Bottom Line
Fresh and packaged seafood products can be a treat to eat — but not if it comes at the expense of our own health. Make sure to practice proper safety and hygiene habits when eating seafood. Furthermore, be careful with how you handle, store, and prepare your seafood, to avoid foodborne illnesses.