Shellfish is a delicious and nutritious food that can be enjoyed in various ways. However, it is important to handle and prepare seafood appropriately to prevent foodborne illness. According to Health Canada, raw bivalve shellfish, such as oysters, clams, scallops, mussels, and cockles, can carry bacteria, viruses, and toxins that can cause foodborne illness . That’s why it is important to ensure that seafood is fresh and handled correctly.
How to ensure the shellfish is fresh and safe to eat
Here are some tips to ensure that the shellfish is fresh:
Keep it cool: Refrigerate it immediately after buying to keep it cold (below 4°C). Cover the shells with a damp cloth and place them on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator. Raw seafood can generally be kept refrigerated for a few days, depending on their freshness and quality, and can be stored in the freezer for 2-4 months .
Check packaging integrity: Frozen seafood should be checked for packaging integrity before purchase. Make sure that the packaging is not torn or open and that there is minimal frost or ice crystal formation on the packaging. Too much frost could mean that the seafood has been frozen for a long time or has been thawed and refrozen .
Thaw properly: Shellfish that is labeled frozen but received thawed should be accepted as long as the label is attached and accurate. However, it is important to ensure that the thawed seafood is handled correctly before freezing.
Overall, handling and preparing seafood appropriately is crucial to prevent foodborne illness. When buying fresh or frozen seafood, make sure to check for packaging integrity before purchase. Refrigerate or freeze it immediately after purchase and thaw using appropriate methods before cooking. Shellfish that is labeled frozen but received thawed should be accepted as long as the label is attached and accurate.
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 Health Canada. (2011, November 22). Shellfish food safety. Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/meat-poultry-fish-seafood-safety/shellfish-food-safety.html