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Eating Raw Seafood -What You Need To Know

It’s always best to cook seafood thoroughly to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. However, if you choose to eat raw fish anyway, one rule of thumb is to eat fish that has been previously frozen.

  • Some species of fish can contain parasites, and freezing will kill any parasites that may be present.
  • However, be aware that freezing doesn’t kill all harmful microorganisms. That’s why the safest route is to cook your seafood.

An Important Note About Oysters:
Some oysters are treated for safety after they are harvested. That information may or may not be on the label. However, these oysters should still not be eaten raw by people at risk for foodborne illness. The post-harvest treatment eliminates some naturally occurring pathogens, but it does not remove all pathogens that can cause illness.

Keep in mind that some people are at greater risk for foodborne illness, and should not eat raw or partially cooked fish or shellfish. These susceptible groups include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Young children
  • Older adults
  • Persons whose immune systems are compromised
  • Persons who have decreased stomach acidity

If you are unsure of your risk, ask your healthcare provider.

Smoked Seafood: Avoiding Listeriosis

Pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems have an increased chance of getting a foodborne illness called listeriosis. If you are in one of these groups, there is a simple step you can take to reduce your chance of contracting the listeriosis disease from seafood:

  • Avoid refrigerated types of smoked seafood except in a cooked recipe, such as a casserole. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel, is usually labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky” and can be found in the refrigerated section of grocery stores and delicatessens. They should be avoided.
  • You needn’t worry about getting listeriosis from canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood.

Special Health Notes For Moms and Moms-to-Be

If you are pregnant, nursing your child, or thinking about becoming pregnant, it is important that you avoid consuming too much methylmercury. This substance can be found in certain fish, and it can harm an unborn child’s developing nervous system if eaten regularly.

Don’t Eat . . .

Avoid these four fish species:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish

However, don’t deny yourself or your unborn baby the nutritional benefits of fish – you can eat 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of other types of cooked fish, as long as you eat a variety of kinds that are lower in mercury. This same advice should be followed when you’re feeding fish and shellfish to your young child, but serve smaller portions.

Do Eat . . .

Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are:

  • Shrimp
  • Canned light tuna *
  • Salmon
  • Pollock
  • Catfish
“Local Catch” Alert:

Be sure and check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas.

* 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.

Original article from http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/BuyStoreServeSafeFood/ucm077331.htm

Photo credit: Håkan Dahlström / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)