Australia’s love of seafood is a culinary delight that spans generations, and it’s easy to see why. Not only is seafood brimming with health-boosting nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also delicious and versatile.
However, seafood is also considered to be a high-risk food when it comes to assessing it’s potential to inflict food poisoning. Therefore, it’s essential to practice proper food safety all times to make sure seafood is fit for consumption.
Be careful choosing your distributor
The first step in ensuring safe, good-quality seafood, is making sure you purchase it from the right source. Seafood should always be stored and transported at carefully monitored low temperatures, so make sure that you choose a store that is meticulous about these practices. Avoid fishmongers or shops that do not regularly adhere to high standards and do not keep their establishments clean.
Selecting the right seafood
When buying seafood, check that the eyes of fish are clear and slightly bulged. A fish with cloudy or sunken eyes usually indicates that it was caught some time ago and may be past it’s prime. The skin should be smooth and the colours vibrant, and fish should never be oily or slimy.
For prawns, the safest way to purchase them is whole and frozen, with the heads still attached. Prawns can expire very quickly if not stored at a temperature no greater than 4 degrees celsius, so be sure to buy from a seller who adheres to the correct storage methods.
Seafood should never actually smell “fishy”. It should smell like the ocean, and slightly salty. If your seafood smells fishy at all, it’s best to not purchase.
Storing and transporting seafood
Once you’ve selected some high-quality seafood, you need to ensure that you store it properly until it ‘s time for it to be cooked or served.
Transport seafood from the store in an air-conditioned compartment within your car, and ensure that it is refrigerated as soon as you get home. Often, seafood should be stored in an airtight container, however, live crabs will need to be kept in a ventilated box.
Just as it is important to store your seafood at the right temperature, it is also essential to cook it at the right temperature too. Your seafood should reach an internal temperature of 63 degrees before it can be considered safe to eat. If you have no other means of measuring your food’s internal temperature, it may be worth investing in a meat thermometer for this purpose.
If you are preparing dishes that involve the use of raw fish, such as sushi, make sure that you only use sushi-grade products. This food will have been stored and frozen according to strict standards designed to destroy bacteria.