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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Proper handling of seafood ensures quality and safety

Proper handling of seafood ensures quality and safety

Handling seafood safely helps to maintain quality and wholesomeness.

We all know that seafood is best when cooked and eaten as soon as possible after being taken from the water. But this does not mean seafood cannot be kept good and wholesome long after the catch.

Whether the fish or shellfish has been freshly caught or just bought, you must always take care to preserve its wholesomeness. To safely handle and maintain the quality of seafood, always follow these general guidelines:

- Keep seafood cold. All fresh or smoked seafood should be refrigerated at 32-40 degrees. The best way to thaw frozen seafood is under refrigeration (let it thaw-out in the refrigerator or on ice before using).

Also, if you’re in a hurry, quick thawing can be done under cold running water if necessary. You should do it with the original wrapping intact. You should keep frozen seafood rigidly frozen until ready to use, stored in a freezer at zero degrees.

- Don’t cross contaminate (keep raw and cooked seafood separately). Always handle raw and cooked seafood products separately. Clean and sanitize the work space between the preparation and serving of seafood. Don’t allow raw and cooked seafood to come in contact with each other.

- Know your seafood seller. You should buy your fish and shellfish only from approved and licensed stores, markets, and fishermen.

- Fish to be consumed raw should be frozen first. If you plan on serving raw seafood dishes such as ceviche, sushi, or sashimi, freeze the fish first to kill any harmful parasites.

- Cook fish thoroughly. Fish is thoroughly cooked when it begins to flake and reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Raw oysters should be bought only from approved reputable sources. Also if you harvest oysters yourself, be sure the area you get them from is an open, approved area.

- Buy and/or harvest raw shellfish carefully. Live shellfish such as crawfish, crabs, lobsters, clams, oysters, or mussels should not be cooked and eaten if they have died during storage.

- Keep “live” shellfish “alive”. Store live shellfish under well ventilated refrigeration, not in airtight plastic bags or containers.

- Refrigerate live shellfish properly. Live shellfish will keep longer when stored in the refrigerator with damp paper or cloth towels covering them.

Finally, remember that all raw foods contain bacteria. You should handle seafood just as you would any other perishable food products. Keep your fish and shellfish properly refrigerated, cook it adequately, and avoid things such as cross contamination. By doing this you will be assured that you and your family always enjoy safe and healthy seafood meals.

Bon appétit!

Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Agent for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or His articles and blogs are posted at "Friend" him on Facebook at and follow his "Tweets" on Twitter at