Seafood Safety Tips

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Fish is a great source of lean protein, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B, and D, and low in sodium, saturated fat, and calories. Shellfish is rich in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. If you’re eating fish, it may be helpful to become familiar with categories of species. With over thirty thousand species known, variety is definitely not an issue.

Fish are categorized into flatfish, roundfish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Flatfish, like, flounder and sole, have symmetrical compressed bodies and both eyes on top of their heads. Roundfish, like cod and grouper, on the other hand, have both eyes on the sides of their heads and swim in a vertical position. Mollusks, otherwise known as shellfish, have soft, unsegmented bodies with no internal skeleton and hard outer shells. Crustaceans, like crabs, have a hard outer shell and jointed appendages.

Cooking time for fish is generally shorter and flavors are much more delicate than meat or chicken. Fish can spoil easily though, so special attention should be taken when purchasing and storing it.

Follow these tips for a delicious, safe meal.


The scent of a fish is the easiest way to determine freshness. Fresh fish should not smell “fishy,” rather scent should resemble a “fresh from the sea” type of aroma or have no scent at all. Off odors indicate the fish is aged or has been improperly handled.


Fish eyes should be clear, full, and bright. Sunken eyes are an indicator that the fish is getting old. Gills should be intact and red. Brown gills are a sign of aging. Fish should also appear moist and firm, without bruising or dark spots.


Fish should not be mushy. Look for firm, glistening flesh. Flesh should spring back when pressed with a finger.


Avoid mollusks with broken or heavy shells, as well as shells that are open. Fresh shellfish should be purchased live and should show movement. Shellfish can also be purchased frozen. Frozen shellfish should not be re-frozen if thawed.


Fresh fish should be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator for no more than two days. If you are not going to use the fish right away, freeze it.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website