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Keep Seafood Safe For Your Family To Eat!

Singaporeans consume an average of 100,000 tonnes of seafood each year. While seafood is generally safe to eat, we can still take measures to minimise food safety risks through careful selection and handling.

Eating raw seafood instead of cooked seafood can makes us more prone to food poisoning. As such, those with poor immune systems should avoid taking raw or partially cooked seafood.

Big fishes, especially those higher in the food chain, may have higher mercury content. Such fishes can accumulate methylmercury in their flesh. This can affect an unborn child's nervous system. Expectant mothers and young children, who are more susceptible to the harmful effects of methylmercury, are advised to eat such seafood in moderate quantities and to maintain a balanced diet.

The following tips will enable you to enjoy safe seafood all year round.

For more information on proper storage of seafood, please refer to the storage guide.

Buying seafood

  • Buy seafood that is properly iced or refrigerated.
  • Select packaged seafood before its expiry date and check that packages are not torn.
  • Fresh seafood should not have excess liquid when packaged.
  • Avoid seafood that has a strong ammonia smell. Dead shellfish is not edible and should be avoided.
  • When buying fish, choose those that are shiny, bright, and with scales intact. Fresh fish should have bright, clear and full eyes and firm flesh. Fish gills should be red to liver-red and free from slime.
  • Head home immediately after buying seafood so that they will not be left unrefrigerated for too long.

Handling seafood

  • Handle seafood with care. Bruises and punctures in seafood make them spoil more rapidly.
  • Thaw seafood safely in the refrigerator or use the microwave oven.
  • Separate raw seafood from cooked or ready-to-eat food to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Thoroughly wash knives, containers and cutting boards before and after handling raw seafood.
  • Scrub and clean the shells of scallops, mussels, clams or oysters under cold water before opening or cooking them in the shell.
  • Always cook seafood thoroughly until it is opaque and flaky.
  • Cook seafood well to kill viruses and bacteria.

Storing seafood

  • Follow the recommended safe handling and storage information on the packages, if any.
  • Wash and dry fresh seafood before placing them in clean plastic bags or containers for storage.
  • If you need to freeze the seafood, divide into portions based on your normal serving size.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient space in between items placed in the refrigerator or freezer so that cold air can circulate freely.
  • Do not open refrigerator or freezer doors more often than necessary to avoid temperature fluctuation.
  • When storing or thawing seafood in the refrigerator, place the seafood in containers or trays to prevent the juices from contaminating other food.
  • Do not re-freeze seafood that has been completely thawed.
  • Do not overstock your seafood supply. Follow the rule of first in / first out, i.e. use older stock first.
  • Store live oysters, clams and mussels in the refrigerator. Keep them damp. Do not place them on ice, or let them come into contact with fresh water. Do not place them in airtight containers.
  • Wash and refrigerate freshly shucked oysters, scallops and clams in separate containers. For best quality, they should be eaten immediately.


Your Storage Guide for Chilled Seafood
Fish 1 - 2 days 2 - 4 months
Clams, Mussels, Oysters and Squids 1 - 2 days 3 - 4 months
Crabs, Crayfish, Prawns, Lobsters 2 - 3 days 2 - 3 months
Cooked Prawns and Mussels 3 - 4 days 2 - 3 months
Fishballs and Yong Tau Foo    
   - pre-packed Use by date Do not freeze
   - loose 1 - 2 days Do not freeze

Your Storage Guide for Frozen Seafood
Fish 1 - 2 days 3 - 6 months
Prawns 1 - 2 days 9 - 12 months
   - shucked 1 - 2 days 3 - 4 months
   - shelled 1 - 2 days 2 -3 months
Fishballs (cooked) 3 - 5 days Use by date


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Last updated on 13 April 2010
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