HEALTH FEATURE ARCHIVE
Choosing & Preparing A Healthy Dish
Avoiding Food Contamination
Fresh seafood, like many other foods, are more
abundant during certain seasons of the year. Your seafood grocer can tell you
about seasonal offerings. Your grocer can also indicate the most economical
seafood varieties. Always purchase seafood from a grocer that maintains high
Base your seafood purchases on quality. Frozen seafood can be superior in
quality to fresh products. Many fish and shellfish are "flash frozen"
within hours of harvest. It might take several days for the same seafood to make
it to your seafood dealer as "fresh."
Quick Tips To Remember for Safe Seafood
- Only buy seafood from reputable, commercial sources.
- Buy only well refrigerated or properly iced seafood
- Once purchased, refrigerate products immediately.
- For optimal freshness, use seafood products within three
- If you purchase live shellfish (i.e. lobsters, crabs,
oysters, clams and mussels), discard any that die during storage.
- Thaw frozen seafood in the refrigerator or under cold
running water, not at room temperature.
- Marinate seafood in the refrigerator.
- Prevent cooked seafood products from coming in contact with
raw product as well as the cutting boards and utensils used to prepare
- Individuals with weakened immune systems and liver ailments
should only enjoy seafood in its many delicious cooked forms.
- Raw and undercooked seafood should be avoided by
individuals with these health concerns.
- Keep prepared seafood's such as salads refrigerated before
- Those who fish recreationally should follow state and local
government advisories about fish areas and consumption of product from
- If seafood, meat or poultry will be used within two days after purchase,
store it in the coldest part of the refrigerator, usually under the freezer
compartment or in a special "meat keeper." Avoid packing it in
tightly with other items; allow air to circulate freely around the package.
Otherwise, wrap the food tightly in moisture-proof freezer paper or foil to
protect it from air leaks and store in the freezer.
- Discard shellfish, such as lobsters, crabs, oysters, clams, and mussels,
if they die during storage or if their shells crack or break. Live shellfish
close up when the shell is tapped.
- Wash hands thoroughly with hot soapy water before and after handling any raw
- Thaw frozen seafood, meat and poultry in the refrigerator. Gradual
defrosting overnight is best because it helps maintain quality. If you must thaw
food quickly, seal it in a plastic bag and immerse in cold water for about an
hour, or microwave on the "defrost" setting if the food is to be
cooked immediately. For fish, stop the defrost cycle while the fish is still icy
- Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Discard the
marinade after use because it contains raw juices, which may harbor bacteria. If
you want to use the marinade as a dip or sauce, reserve a portion before adding
- Do not allow cooked food to come in contact with raw products.
separate cutting boards and utensils or wash items completely between use. (See
"Key Cutting Board Rules.")
- Meat must be cooked to an
internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius). Using a
meat thermometer is crucial, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says, because
research results indicate that some ground meat may prematurely brown before a
safe internal temperature has been reached. On the other hand, research findings
also show that some ground meat patties cooked to 160 F or above may remain pink
inside for a number of reasons; thus the color of meat alone is not considered a
reliable indicator of ground beef safety. If eating out, order your ground beef
to be cooked well-done. Temperatures for other foods to reach to be safe
- pork--160 F
- whole poultry and thighs--180 F (82 C)
- poultry breasts--170
F (77 C)
- ground chicken or ground turkey--165 F (74 C)
- It's always best to cook
seafood. It's a must for at-risk people. (See "Who's at Risk?") The
Food and Drug Administration's 1997 Food Code recommends cooking most seafood to
an internal temperature of 145 F (63 C) for 15 seconds.
- If you don't have a meat
thermometer, there are other ways to determine whether seafood is done:
fish, slip the point of a sharp knife into the flesh and pull aside. The edges
should be opaque and the center slightly translucent with flakes beginning to
separate. Let the fish stand three to four minutes to finish cooking.
shrimp, lobster and scallops, check color. Shrimp and lobster turn red and the
flesh becomes pearly opaque. Scallops turn milky white or opaque and firm.
clams, mussels and oysters, watch for the point at which their shells open. That
means they're done. Throw out those that stay closed.
- When using the microwave,
rotate the dish several times to ensure even cooking. Follow recommended
standing times. After the standing time is completed, check the seafood in
several spots with a meat thermometer to be sure the product has reached the
- Buy only refrigerated eggs, and keep them refrigerated until
you are ready to cook and serve them. Cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk
and white are firm, not runny, and scramble until there is no visible liquid
egg. Cook pasta dishes and stuffings that contain eggs thoroughly. Use
cooked-base recipes for hollandaise and similar sauces, and do not eat raw eggs
or serve food with raw eggs in it, such as homemade eggnog or mayonnaise. Egg
dishes or casseroles with eggs should be cooked to an internal temperature of