North Carolina Sea Grant
Mariner's Menu

Mariner's Menu

January 20, 2010 | David Green

seafood is safe to eat

It’s always best to cook seafood thoroughly to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. However, if you choose to eat raw or partially cooked fish and shellfish anyway, there are some things you should know.

One rule of thumb is to consume raw fish only if it has been previously frozen. Some species of fish can contain parasites, and freezing will kill any parasites that may be present. However, be aware that freezing doesn’t kill all harmful microorganisms. That’s why the safest route is to cook your seafood.

Some oysters are treated for safer consumption after they are harvested, but that information may or may not be on the label. This post-harvest treatment eliminates some naturally occurring pathogens, but it does not remove all pathogens that can cause illness. Treated oysters should still not be eaten raw by high-risk individuals for foodborne illness, those individuals with liver disease, alcoholism, cancer (including leukemia and lymphoma), diabetes, and HIV.

The best way to minimize foodborne illness with any raw food is to cook it thoroughly. This way, you gain the nutritional and health benefits while reducing the risk of illness!

For more information on how to safely eat raw seafood, visit FDA or safe oysters.

Contributed by David Green

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