Finfish Safety

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In the United States, it is extremely rare for individuals to become ill as a result of having eaten fish. Carefully prepared in a clean environment, even raw finfish, which is becoming more popular as we explore cuisines from around the globe, is almost never a cause of illness.

In brief, for eating raw finfish safely, best safety practices avoid cross-contamination from bacteria and parasites.

To avoid cross-contamination:

•Purchase seafood from a clean shop with knowledgeable employees. Seafood should never be displayed or stored in a way that other foods can cross-contaminate them, especially poultry. Hands should be washed before handling, or gloves should be changed, and utensils should be used for handling one type of seafood.

•Practice safe hygiene at home; wash cutting boards, knives, utensils, and your hands with hot, soapy water before preparing seafood meant for raw or cooked consumption.

To avoid parasites:

• Choose only the freshest fish. Most parasites migrate from the belly cavity area through the fish after it dies.

• Avoid wild freshwater fish such as whitefish, pike, perch and lake trout; tapeworm is endemic to those fish.

• Learn to identify the culprits in fish; they are visible to the naked eye.

• Prepare raw fish at home very carefully. Slice it thinly and examine it. As an extra precaution, put the fish on a piece of plexiglas and hold it over a light bulb so any parasites will be highlighted.