Seven tips for better seafood handling
- Handle carefully
Always handle seafood carefully, to reduce physical damage. Bruising will cause changes in flavour and texture. Broken and exposed flesh can cause a quickening of bacteria.
- Keep it separate
Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw and cooked seafood separated. Utensils used for raw seafood should never be used for cooked seafood. Colour coded utensils and containers can help prevent cross-contamination.
- Keep it clean
Rinse seafood (except dried or smoked) under cold, running water before preparation (using iced, salted water lessens temperature rise and flavour loss). In addition, the equipment used, any surfaces that come in contact with seafood, and your hands must be appropriately cleaned and sanitised. This removes foreign matter, limits the spread of bacteria, avoids cross-contamination, and maintains the product's visual appeal.
- Keep it cool
Chilled seafood must be stored in a clean, tidy environment between -1°C and +4°C (if not live) and frozen seafood at -18°C or below. This helps control the build-up of bacteria and the harmful action of enzymes - higher temperatures mean shorter shelf life.
- Keep it covered
Seafood must be covered in cling wrap to prevent contamination and damage
- Keep it moist
Seafood must be kept moist to minimise weight loss and to prevent dehydration, which can adversely affect its appearance, texture and flavour
- Keep it moving
Keep seafood moving by:
- using it as soon as possible;
- using a good storage rotation system (first in first out);
- preparing it as soon as it is thawed or removed from the chiller;
- serving it, or returning it to the refrigerator, as soon as it is prepared.
Hygiene is also essential to ensure there is never any build-up of anything that provides a good environment for potentially harmful bacteria and other micro-organisms. For this reason it is important to keep all work surfaces and utensils clean and to wash hands frequently while preparing seafood.
For the commercial sector, each state and territory has its own agencies responsible for food safety and regulations. At a national level, Food Standards Australia New Zealand and Seafood Services Australia are responsible to ensure our seafood is handled properly before we buy it.