Seafood is a highly perishable food. Be sure to purchase your fish from a reputable supplier with proven safe seafood handling practices. After that, it's up to you!
Always be sure to pick out seafood items at the end of your shopping trip – removing them from refrigeration at the last possible moment. Pack your seafood items with other cold items in the same grocery bag. Do not pack edibles in the same bag with chemical products or fragranced items such as dryer sheets.
Use these indicators to ensure the fillets are fresh:
- LOOK: A fresh fillet should have a nice shine to it. This indicates the fish has not dried out (if previously frozen, expect less shine). Dull flesh may indicate the fish is not as fresh as possible. There should be no discoloration (darkening, browning or yellowing of the edges). The bloodline of a Tilapia fillet, for example, should be a nice shade of red or maroon, not brown.
- TOUCH: The fish should be cold to the touch. The flesh should be firm. Press the flesh with your finger (or ask your fish monger to). If the pressure leaves a lasting indentation, the fish is probably safe to eat, but perhaps not as fresh as it could be.
- SMELL: All fish should have a ‘sea or bay breeze' and mild smell – not a ‘fishy' or ammonia smell. Smell is perhaps the best indication of whether your fish is fresh or not. If the fish has been marinated or breaded by your grocer, we recommend using smell as your best judge for freshness.
For whole fish, indicators of freshness include clear eyes which bulge a little, moist, firm skin which, like fillets, will not keep a lasting indentation when pressed with your finger and a mild sea or bay breeze smell.