Is Raw Seafood Safe to

With sushi bars and with seviche (a popular Mexican and Caribbean appetizer), many people have come to enjoy raw and uncooked marinated seafood. With careful control, they can be safe; read on to learn how.

Shellfish, especially mollusks (oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops), may carry the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus, which multiplies even during refrigeration. Other viruses in uncooked or partly cooked mollusks also can cause severe diarrhea. See the early part of this chapter for more about the risks related to Vibrio vulnificus. Precautions reduce the risks:

  • High-risk individuals—those with HIV, impaired immune systems, liver and gastrointestinal disorders, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, diabetes, hemochromatosis, stomach problems, or steroid dependency—should avoid eating any raw or partly cooked fish. Pregnant women, infants, young children, older adults, and those with alcohol problems also are considered at high risk.
  • If you prepare raw fish at home, start with high-quality seafood—very, very fresh, and use it within two days. Buy from a licensed, reputable dealer. For mollusks (clams, mussels, oysters), you can ask to see the certified shipper's tag. If you harvest your own, make sure the waters of origin are certified for safety. Follow the rules for safe food handling in this chapter. Even at that, eating raw fish at home isn't advised. You're wiser to cook fish to an internal temperature of 145° F to destroy parasites.
  • If fish is sushi-grade or high-quality, sushi, sashimi, seviche, and oyster bars are generally safe. Reputable restaurants have highly trained chefs who not only know how to buy fish for safety and sanitation standards but also know how to handle fish safely.

See chapter 11 about buying fresh seafood.

always store commercial herb and garlic oil products in the refrigerator.

• Direct your coughs and sneezes away from food. Coughs and sneezes spread germs. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Then wash your hands with warm, soapy water.

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