Storage & Handling

The leading cause of most food-borne illnesses is improper food handling, preparation, and storage. Follow these tips to ensure good seafood quality and safety

Only buy seafood from reputable, commercial sources.

When you are food shopping, purchase seafood last and keep it cold. Ask your grocer to pack your seafood on ice for the trip home.

Fresh fish, shucked oysters and scallops have a mild, fresh sea breeze odor. A strong, fish odor generally is not acceptable.

Clams and oysters (molluscan shellfish) should be purchased alive. Shells of live clams and oysters may open naturally but will close tightly when tapped, indicating that they are alive. Discard any dead ones.

Store seafood in leak-proof containers for up to two days in the coldest part of your refrigerator at 32-38 F, or 3 to 10 months frozen. Shelf life will vary depending upon product form and species. Always rinse fish with water before preparing.

Never store live (in the shell) oysters or clams in airtight containers. Place them in a container with a lid that is slightly ajar and refrigerate for no more than five days. Oysters and clams will naturally open during storage. Tap the shell lightly. If it does not close, it is dead and must be discarded.

Thaw seafood in the refrigerator - never at room temperature. To use frozen seafood immediately, thaw under cold running water (one to two hours per pound of seafood) or use the microwave defrost setting.

Prevent cross-contamination between raw seafood and other food products.

  • Wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after handling raw seafood.
  • Do not drip seafood juices on counters, utensils or other foods.
  • Thoroughly wash containers that held raw seafood before using them again.

Always marinate seafood in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Discard the marinade after use.

When in doubt, throw it out! Do not taste a food that you think is spoiled.