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Storing, Handling & Cooking Tips
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Storing, Handling & Cooking Tips

Frequently Asked Questions.

Is it safe to consume raw fish and seafood?

  • A number of people choose to eat fish in its raw form including oysters on the half-shell, sushi, sashimi, and ceviche. Consumption of any raw or under cooked animal protein poses a risk of food borne illness to the general population. However, certain segments of the population who are considered at high risk, should avoid raw or under cooked animal proteins, including raw fish and seafood. At-risk individuals have weakened immune systems and cannot effectively fight bacteria. Therefore, those who are considered to be "at-risk" should only enjoy seafood in the cooked form. The at-risk groups include people with the following conditions: liver disease from viral hepatitis or other causes; diabetes; cancer; immune disorders, including HIV infection; long-term steroid use (as for asthma and arthritis); and hemochromatosis, an iron disorder.

I understand that seafood is quick and easy to prepare. How do you know when fish and shellfish are done?

  • Jersey Seafood is one of our region's original fast foods. The key to delicious seafood is to cook it quickly. Unlike meat, fish and shellfish do not need to be "tenderized" by cooking. In fact, overcooking toughens seafood and makes it dry out because its natural juices are lost.

  • Remember, if your immune system is compromised in any way (see above), it is important to cook all seafood and protein-based foods. The Food and Drug Administration recommends cooking most seafood to an internal temperature of 145F (63C) for 15 seconds. A meat thermometer is the best way to determine if fish and shellfish are safely cooked.

  • If you are cooking whole fish, steaks and fillets, measure the fish at its thickest part. For every inch of thickness, cook ten minutes. If less than an inch, shorten the cooking time accordingly. There are also ways to visually assess cooking. For fish, insert the tip of a sharp knife into the flesh and pull aside. The center should have flakes that are beginning to separate. Let the fish stand three to four minutes to finish cooking and check at the thickest part of the fish.

  • When preparing shrimp, lobster and scallops, check color. Shrimp and lobster turn red and the flesh becomes white. Scallops become a milk white color and firm. The shells of clams, mussels and oysters, open when they are done. Throw out those that stay closed.

  • Purchase shellfish carefully. Buy raw oysters, clams and mussels only from reputable sources. If in doubt, ask to see the shipper's tag or check the shipper number on the container. Keep live shellfish alive until ready to prepare. Refrigerate live shellfish properly. Live clams, mussels and oysters should be stored under well- ventilated refrigeration, not in air- tight bags or containers.

  • Our website has lots of recipes and preparation information to get you started. Try the American Heart Association website and for a wide selection of recipes and nutrition information.

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