For the average person, guidelines to fish servings are 2-3 serves of 150g/week. However, when choosing Shark or Billfish limit this to once/week and have no other fish that week (Food Standards Australia New Zealand, 2011). Why? The quantity of toxicants in these foods can be hazardous, even though fresh seafood is non-processed and free from additives. This can happen through bioaccumulation, which is the build up of toxins through the food chain. For example, tuna consumption is recommended once per week, to avoid mercury contamination, which has built up through feeding on salmon which have consumed krill.
Additionally, seafood is one of the more likely foods to cause foodborne illness, which may be life threatening. In order to avoid intoxication or infection (e.g. salmonella), food safety methods should be followed:
- Know that the water source is not a contaminated area. Seafood that has been contaminated will remain contaminated even when cooked.
- Purchase frozen or fresh smelling fish, refrigerated or in ice.
- Don’t eat raw or lightly steamed fish to avoid hepatitis A, listeriosis, worms and parasites.
- Wash hands with hot, soapy water before food handling and eating.
- Use clean utensils and a seafood-only chopping board to avoid cross-contamination.
- Thaw in the fridge.
- Serve hot or cold. The bacteria growth danger zone is between 5 and 60 degrees. Food should not be in this zone for longer than 2 hours and should be discarded after 4 hours.
- Freeze to preserve and store for up to 2 – 6 months (dependent on type).
Lastly, don’t forget to eat a variety of foods to gain plenty of nutrients to keep your immune system up to scratch. This should prohibit you from eating too much of one type of food, keeping dosages of toxins at bay.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand. 2011. Retrieved from http://archive.foodstandards.gov.au/consumerinformation/mercuryinfish.cfm