The Fish You’re Eating is Most Likely Not What You Think
A shocking one-third of the seafood that retailers and restaurants sell in the United States have improper labels. This can become a serious food-safety issue. Especially when someone consumes a type of fish that they are allergic to. Or if the fish contains dangerous toxins. Yes, the media informs us about the safety issues with imported seafood. However, many people still maintain the mindset of, “I have to see it to believe it” before they decide to take precaution. It’s not until they’re in the hospital doubling over in pain until they realize the repercussions. South Lake Tahoe California food safety training services has the latest information on properly handling food.
How can I ensure my seafood is safe?
The FDA has a systematic seafood safety program to control potential risk from raw material production. It relies on different measures of compliance with its seafood HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) regulations. Some of these measures include inspection of foreign processing facilities, sampling of seafood for import into the U.S., and inspections of seafood importers.
We have to take responsibility for our own food safety. How do we do this? Check packaging labels thoroughly. Ask waiters in restaurants where the fish comes from. Cook fish properly (or ask for fish to be cooked well done in restaurants). Watch out for cross-contamination. Most importantly, wash your food. This is especially true if you are going to eat it raw. We must take the proper precautions to protect ourselves.
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Who is at risk for tainted food consumption?
People who purchase seafood to eat are the ones who are most impacted by this type of activity, whether at grocery stores or restaurants. It’s important to note that people with weak immune systems and poor health status are at much greater risk for infection because of contaminated food. Infants, pregnant women, and the elderly are also susceptible to more severe consequences of foodborne illness found in tainted seafood.
Even people with “stomachs of steel” who eat everything need to realize they are at risk. It’s easy to eat twenty pieces of sushi at once when you can’t see the bacteria, or can’t tell the difference between the types of fish. But your body certainly can once you start to digest the food. More than 200 diseases spread through food. This is a scary number considering we eat numerous times a day in various places.
One major problem is that food safety regulations in other countries might not be as stringent as those in the United States. It can also be challenging for U.S. regulators to keep up with the massive number of producers and shipments.
Which types of fish should I be aware of?
Some of the most common substitutes to look out for are Asian catfish, hake, and escolar, which is also called oilfish. Escolar contains a toxin called gempylotoxin, which can cause bowel distress. Some sushi restaurants label escolar as white tuna, so this is something to be aware of if you love raw fish. Other types of mislabeling include haddock being sold as cod.
What happens most often is that the mislabeling of seafood involves a cheaper fish posing as a more expensive type. This means customers are overpaying in stores and in restaurants, depending on where they buy their fish.
Tips for buying safe seafood
Try to buy wild fish, rather than farm-raised, because farm-raised fish have higher levels of toxins and chemicals in their bodies. Buying fresh fish over frozen is a safer option, as well. You can also purchase smaller fish (ones that are lower on the food chain, such as sardines). The bigger predators tend to have more toxins in their bodies.