• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Introduction
 Consumption of raw seafoods
 Seafood from specific location...
 Mishandling the catch
 Chemical pollutants
 Maintaining quality in the...
 Additional information






Group Title: Florida Sea Grant Extension Bulletin SGEB-18
Title: Recreational seafood safety
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00073905/00001
 Material Information
Title: Recreational seafood safety a guide for marine recreational fishing
Series Title: SGEB
Physical Description: 19 p. : col. ill. ; 22 x 10 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Otwell, W. Steven
Lawlor, Frank J
Florida Sea Grant College
Publisher: Florida Dept. of Natural Resources :
Florida Sea Grant College Program
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla.
Publication Date: 1991
 Subjects
Subject: Seafood -- Safety measures -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Fishing -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: written by Steven Otwell & Frank Lawlor
General Note: Title from cover.
Funding: This collection includes items related to Florida’s environments, ecosystems, and species. It includes the subcollections of Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit project documents, the Sea Grant technical series, the Florida Geological Survey series, the Coastal Engineering Department series, the Howard T. Odum Center for Wetland technical reports, and other entities devoted to the study and preservation of Florida's natural resources.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00073905
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001802297
oclc - 28013091
notis - AJM6081

Table of Contents
    Introduction
        Page 1
    Consumption of raw seafoods
        Page 2
    Seafood from specific locations
        Page 2
    Mishandling the catch
        Page 3
    Chemical pollutants
        Page 4
    Maintaining quality in the catch
        Page 5
    Additional information
        Page 6
Full Text



Fact Sheet SGEB-18
September 1991


Florida Cooperative Extension Service



Recreational Seafood Safety'

Steven Otwell and Frank Lawlor2


Recreational fishing produces a significant portion
of all the edible fish and shellfish harvested annually
in Florida. Current estimates by the National
Academy of Sciences suggest the nationwide
recreational catch contributes more than 20 percent
of the annual amount of seafoods consumed in the
United States. These estimates emphasize the im-
portance of protecting both the quality of the catch
and the quality of our inland and coastal waters.

Sport-caught seafoods from marine waters offer
many noted nutritional attributes. The basic benefits
of high quality, easily digested protein and low fat
content are accompanied by a full complement of
minerals, vitamins and the unique, healthful omega-3
fatty acids. Recent studies have linked seafood
consumption with a variety of health benefits
including decreased risk from cardiovascular disease.
These benefits further enhance the enjoyment of
recreational fishing.

The vast majority of recreationally caught seafoods
are wholesome and safe to eat. Nevertheless, as for
all foods, there are some health risks associated with
consumption of certain types from certain locations,
and there is the chance that mishandling of the catch
can create a health risk. The intent of this brochure
is to outline some of the more problematic concerns
in order to avoid and prevent seafood-borne illnesses
from the recreational catch in Florida. Likewise, this
advice should encourage concern for maintaining the
quality of Florida's waters.


SEAFOOD HEALTH RISKS
IN PERSPECTIVE

Through the last decade, reported illnesses from
seafood consumption have averaged less than 10
percent of all the types of reported foodborne
illnesses. In 1989, the Commissioner for the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration stated, "...fish is by far
the safest source of muscle protein available." When
problems do occur, they are usually caused by
contaminants present prior to capture or due to
mishandling of the catch. For these reasons, a
significant portion of the annually reported seafood-
borne illnesses involve a recreational catch and/or at
home preparation.

Illnesses associated with seafood consumption can
be grouped into four general categories:

* consumption of raw seafoods,
* eating certain types of seafood from certain areas,
* mishandling and
* chemical pollutants.

Avoidance and prevention of these problems
require common sense and awareness of the potential
causes.


1. This document is Fact Sheet SGEB-18, a series of Florida Sea Grant College Program, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food
and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: September 1991.
2. Adapted by Mark L. Tamplin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Food Safety, from Food Science and Human Nutrition, Sea Grant Seafood
Specialist and Sea Grant Extension Agent, Florida Sea Grant College Program, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational
information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national
origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / John T. Woeste, Dean


UNIVERSITY OF

F FLORIDA







Recreational Seafood Safety


CONSUMPTION OF RAW SEAFOODS

Raw Seafood Concerns

Eating raw fish or shellfish is the most frequent
cause of seafood-borne illnesses. These raw foods
carry bacteria and other contaminants that may be
harmful to consumers. This eating preference is of
particular concern for consumers with health
conditions that impair their health defense systems.

Live oysters and clams filter enormous amounts
of water to obtain food. This same water may contain
potentially harmful types and amounts of bacteria and
virus that can concentrate and survive in the shellfish.
Mishandling of the recreational harvest can further
contribute to the growth and survival of bacteria.

Similarly, some live fish can carry parasites which
are part of the natural Lc0ol 'gy of the marine
environment. In most instances these marine parasites
are not harmful to humans and are simply destroyed
by human digestion. Although the occurrence of a
marine parasite infection in humans from eating raw
fish is very rare, the unpleasant thought of eating a
parasite is enough reason for caution.

Raw Seafood Safety

Live shellfish, clams and oysters should only be
taken from 'approved' coastal waters. A continuous
coastal water monitoring and approval program is
conducted by the Florida Department of Natural
Resources (FDNR). Advice and maps on "approved
shellfish waters" are available from local FDNR
offices or cooperating city and county health depart-
ments. Approved waters apply to all clams and oysters
whether they are to be eaten raw or cooked, and also
apply to scallops if they are to be eaten raw and
whole (viscera and muscle).

Consumers with compromised health conditions
that impair their health defense systems should not
eat raw shellfish! Despite regulatory monitoring and
approval of waters, certain bacteria which can infect
compromised consumers may be present on raw
oysters or clams. One example is Vibrio vulnificus
which has caused death in consumers who are in the
so-called 'health risk categories.' These bacteria are
easily destroyed by thorough cooking.

All raw shellfish must be stored in refrigeration to
slow or minimize bacterial growth. Direct storage in
ice is not recommended as it may kill the shellfish.


Dead shellfish, those that remain gaping open even
when tapped, should not be eaten. Live shellfish have
a better flavor and less chance to cause illness. The
recommended storage for live shellfish is 'indirect'
icing in a cooler or box with insulation (towels, paper)
that prevents direct contact with the ice. While the
melting ice provides an essential moist atmosphere,
the shellfish should not be exposed or immersed in
the melted water. Freshwater exposure can kill marine
shellfish.

Some raw marine fish can contain parasites often
called 'worms' or 'cysts.' Those visible about the gut
or surface of the fish muscle can be easily removed
with a knife. Ones that are not removed are easily
destroyed by customary cooking.

An added safety measure for consumers desiring
raw fish or sushi is to place the seafood in frozen
storage (ideally below 0 F for at least 48 hours prior
to serving). This technique kills the parasites. Much
of the desired raw fish quality can be retained by
rapid freezing methods such as packing fillets in a
thin, 1-inch layer and then laying them in frozen
storage with ample cold air exposure. Frozen fillets
should be slowly thawed in refrigeration (32-38 F).

Health Conditions Which Impair Health
Defense Systems

liver disease, including cirrhosis and
hemochromatosis,
chronic alcohol use,
cancer (especially if taking anti-cancer drugs or
radiation treatment,
lymphoma, leukemia, AIDS, Hodgkin's disease,
diabetes mellitus,
chronic kidney disease,
inflammatory bowel disease, any person receiving
immunosuppressive drugs
steroid dependency (as used for conditions such
as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),
achlorhydria (a condition in which the normal
acidity of the stomach is reduced or absent), and
medicines that reduce stomach acid.

SEAFOOD FROM SPECIFIC LOCATIONS

Ciguatera Concern

Ciguatera is a form of seafood poisoning caused by
natural toxins that can occasionally be found in
certain marine fish from specific tropical reef waters.
The natural toxins are formed by microplankton and


Page 2







Recreational Seafood Safety


CONSUMPTION OF RAW SEAFOODS

Raw Seafood Concerns

Eating raw fish or shellfish is the most frequent
cause of seafood-borne illnesses. These raw foods
carry bacteria and other contaminants that may be
harmful to consumers. This eating preference is of
particular concern for consumers with health
conditions that impair their health defense systems.

Live oysters and clams filter enormous amounts
of water to obtain food. This same water may contain
potentially harmful types and amounts of bacteria and
virus that can concentrate and survive in the shellfish.
Mishandling of the recreational harvest can further
contribute to the growth and survival of bacteria.

Similarly, some live fish can carry parasites which
are part of the natural Lc0ol 'gy of the marine
environment. In most instances these marine parasites
are not harmful to humans and are simply destroyed
by human digestion. Although the occurrence of a
marine parasite infection in humans from eating raw
fish is very rare, the unpleasant thought of eating a
parasite is enough reason for caution.

Raw Seafood Safety

Live shellfish, clams and oysters should only be
taken from 'approved' coastal waters. A continuous
coastal water monitoring and approval program is
conducted by the Florida Department of Natural
Resources (FDNR). Advice and maps on "approved
shellfish waters" are available from local FDNR
offices or cooperating city and county health depart-
ments. Approved waters apply to all clams and oysters
whether they are to be eaten raw or cooked, and also
apply to scallops if they are to be eaten raw and
whole (viscera and muscle).

Consumers with compromised health conditions
that impair their health defense systems should not
eat raw shellfish! Despite regulatory monitoring and
approval of waters, certain bacteria which can infect
compromised consumers may be present on raw
oysters or clams. One example is Vibrio vulnificus
which has caused death in consumers who are in the
so-called 'health risk categories.' These bacteria are
easily destroyed by thorough cooking.

All raw shellfish must be stored in refrigeration to
slow or minimize bacterial growth. Direct storage in
ice is not recommended as it may kill the shellfish.


Dead shellfish, those that remain gaping open even
when tapped, should not be eaten. Live shellfish have
a better flavor and less chance to cause illness. The
recommended storage for live shellfish is 'indirect'
icing in a cooler or box with insulation (towels, paper)
that prevents direct contact with the ice. While the
melting ice provides an essential moist atmosphere,
the shellfish should not be exposed or immersed in
the melted water. Freshwater exposure can kill marine
shellfish.

Some raw marine fish can contain parasites often
called 'worms' or 'cysts.' Those visible about the gut
or surface of the fish muscle can be easily removed
with a knife. Ones that are not removed are easily
destroyed by customary cooking.

An added safety measure for consumers desiring
raw fish or sushi is to place the seafood in frozen
storage (ideally below 0 F for at least 48 hours prior
to serving). This technique kills the parasites. Much
of the desired raw fish quality can be retained by
rapid freezing methods such as packing fillets in a
thin, 1-inch layer and then laying them in frozen
storage with ample cold air exposure. Frozen fillets
should be slowly thawed in refrigeration (32-38 F).

Health Conditions Which Impair Health
Defense Systems

liver disease, including cirrhosis and
hemochromatosis,
chronic alcohol use,
cancer (especially if taking anti-cancer drugs or
radiation treatment,
lymphoma, leukemia, AIDS, Hodgkin's disease,
diabetes mellitus,
chronic kidney disease,
inflammatory bowel disease, any person receiving
immunosuppressive drugs
steroid dependency (as used for conditions such
as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),
achlorhydria (a condition in which the normal
acidity of the stomach is reduced or absent), and
medicines that reduce stomach acid.

SEAFOOD FROM SPECIFIC LOCATIONS

Ciguatera Concern

Ciguatera is a form of seafood poisoning caused by
natural toxins that can occasionally be found in
certain marine fish from specific tropical reef waters.
The natural toxins are formed by microplankton and


Page 2







Recreational Seafood Safety


accumulate in the food chain. Potentially any tropical
marine fish participating in a food chain with
ciguatoxin could become ciguatoxic, but documented
illnesses and some recent analyses indicate some fish
are more suspect. In the Caribbean region, the fish
with the worst reputations are -- amberjacks and
other jacks, moray eels and barracuda. Other fish with
concerned reputations are hogfish, scorpion fish,
certain triggerfish, and some snappers and groupers.

Ciguatera is most common in certain true tropical
reef areas as in the Caribbean region. Ciguatoxic fish
cannot be detected by appearance, taste or smell.
Raw and cooked whole fish, fillets or parts have no
signs of spoilage, discoloration or deterioration. The
toxins present cannot be completely destroyed or
removed by cooking or freezing.

Ciguatera Prevention

Unfortunately, the documentation, verification and
utility of a reliable ciguatoxic fish list is seriously
compromised by the diversity of fish species and
variable nomenclature. For example, local fishermen
may refer to a variety of fish as "jacks" or "snappers"
when they are actually a mackerel, wrasse or other
species. Certain species of snapper and grouper are
never implicated in ciguatera, yet their popular
reputation suffers from species misidentification.

Selecting smaller fish, which are likely to
accumulate less toxin, offers limited guidance due to
variable sizes per species. Particularly large fish of any
tropical species from Caribbean reef zones should be
avoided. Likewise, barracuda is a reef fish eater that
is not recommended for consumption.

Learning about potential ciguatoxic areas and fish
remains the best method for avoiding this unusual
form of food poisoning. Consumers purchasing
tropical marine fish known to occur about reef waters
should patronize reputable dealers and restaurants.
Vacationers and experienced recreational fishermen
should exercise caution in areas of concern for
particular tropical fish.

Pufferfish Poisoning (PFP)

Tetrodotoxin can be used in reference to a rare,
but potentially severe illness that can result from
consumption of a small group of fish -- the pufferfish
or so-called blowfish or balloonfish. Certain species of
pufferfish have been known to produce this toxin


which can be stored in the viscera or edible muscle of
the fish. If consumed, this toxin can cause a
potentially lethal condition known as "fugu poisoning"
in some oriental countries.

PFP Prevention

The edible muscle from pufferfish is tasty and
many species are eaten, yet most consumers are not
able to distinguish the potentially dangerous vs. safe
species. For example, in Florida there are six to eight
species of pufferfish and studies have shown some of
these species can produce toxins. Experience and
training are necessary to properly distinguish the
species. For these reasons, the safest recommendation
is do not eat pufferfish caught in Florida.

Red Tide Concern

Florida's Red tides are produced by massive
growths of certain types of microplankton that kill fish
and contaminate filter-feeding molluscan shellfish like
clams. The toxins produced by these plankton are
persistent in raw, frozen and cooked forms. Likewise,
the toxins can be airborne in rough coastal surf and
if inhaled can cause respiratory and eye irritation.

Red Tide Safety

Do not harvest shellfish or dying fish from known
regions of red tide. Occurrence is typically seasonal
(spring and early summer) along Florida's southwest
coast, yet cases have been recorded out of season and
in nearshore regions of the east and Gulf coasts of
Florida. Consult regional offices of public health and
the Florida Department of Natural Resources for
advisories. Toxic regions will recover after the
plankton and toxins dissipate.


MISHANDLING THE CATCH

Scombroid Poisoning Prevention

Scombroid poisoning is a type of food intoxication
caused by the consumption of scombroid and
scombroid-like marine fish species that have begun to
spoil with the growth of particular types of bacteria.
Fish most commonly involved are members of the
Scombridae family (tunas and mackerels), and a few
non-scombridae relatives (bluefish, dolphin or
mahi-mahi, and amberjacks). A few additional species
have been implicated, but they are of less concern


Page 3







Recreational Seafood Safety


relative to popular fish consumption. The suspect
toxin is an elevated level of histamine produced by
bacterial breakdown of substances in the muscle
protein. The potential toxins are not destroyed by
friL/in.', ct<,iking, smoking, pickling or canning.

Scombroid Poisoning Prevention

Potential scombrotoxic fish belong to a particular
group of species that have begun to spoil due to
mishandling after catch. These species should always
receive special care in handling, washing, and proper
icing, refrigeration or immediate freezing to prevent
bacterial growth and spoilage. Studies have
demonstrated that, depending on the weather and
location, toxic histamine levels can be generated
within 12 hours (sometimes within as little as 2 hours)
if the catch is not placed on ice or refrigerated. Thus,
species of concern left lying on a warm deck, dock, or
beach are likely to produce histamine and could cause
serious illness.


Ready-to-Eat Seafood Concern

Cross-contamination of ready-to-eat seafoods
refers to contamination by bacteria that, if allowed to
grow, could pose a health threat. Potentially harmful
bacteria can come from the immediate surroundings,
other foods, and/or individuals handling the foods.
The prefix "cross" means that clean or ready-to-eat
items have come in contact with a surface or food
that harbors the harmful bacteria. A typical example
of cross-contamination is preparing and storing
cooked seafoods like boiled crab and shrimp in the
same container previously used for raw seafoods or
other uncooked foods.


Ready-to-Eat Seafood Safety

Ready-to-eat seafoods should always be handled
carefully to reduce any potential transfer of bacterial
contaminants from other foods, particularly raw
seafoods. Keep raw or live seafoods separate from
cooked seafoods. Do not store seafoods in a manner
such that the raw items could drip or drain on the
cooked items during storage or handling. Do not
package cooked seafoods in the same materials,
boxes, wrapping, etc., as previously used for raw
seafoods. Storage temperatures must be maintained


near or preferably below 350 F. Do not handle cooked
seafoods with knives, towels, cutting boards or
containers that have not been thoroughly washed after
any previous contact with raw seafoods.

CHEMICAL POLLUTANTS

Chemical Contamination Concern

Recreational health risks from pollutants such as
heavy metals (mercury), various pesticides, and other
chemicals are difficult to assess because any possible
related illnesses are not obvious and are not limited
to one particular exposure or cause. Prior publicity
and public reaction has heightened concern, but there
are no data to warrant alarm.

Responsible federal and state health and
environmental agencies will issue specific warnings for
locations or species if their continuing tests determine
concerns. Presently, concern is primarily focused on
aquatic species from inland, freshwater sources.


Chemical Contamination Safety

Public health advisories are sometimes issued as
guidelines for the consumption of seafood. These
advisories are based on water and seafood analyses,
and health risk judgments. There is growing concern
for the quality of some of Florida's freshwaters
because of continuing development and pollution.

A recent state-issued health advisory for limiting
the consumption of sharks was based on an analysis
of retail samples originating in numerous locations,
not all within Florida waters. The warning concerned
the detection of methyl-mercury in shark muscle at an
average level of 1.48 ppm (parts per million) while
the current federal alert level is 1.0 ppm. This health
advisory included guidelines for the amount of shark
certain individuals should eat. This recent warning
realized that the detected level did not warrant undue
alarm. Consumption should simply be limited. This
recent warning is typical of numerous advisories for
marine pollutants around the world. These warnings
incorporate a significant risk assessment to assure
consumer safety.

Fishermen should be mindful of future advisories,
carefully distinguishing official releases from publicity
and local reports. The state authority for public health
advisories is the Florida Department of Health and
Rehabilitative Services. These advisories can be


Page 4







Recreational Seafood Safety


accessed through local, city and county health
departments.

Official advisories attempt to account for variations
in contaminants, predicted consumption patterns and
probable long-term consequences. Fishermen should
not generalize about advisories on one fish,
contaminant or area. Contaminated fish from one
area do not imply that the same fish from other areas
or other fish in the same area are also contaminated.
Environmental contamination, in terms of seafood
safety, is usually a site specific problem.

MAINTAINING QUALITY IN THE CATCH

Handling

Proper handling should begin when landing the
fish. Always try to minimize bruising caused by
contact with hard surfaces (decks, gunwales, etc.). If
possible, a padded surface should be provided in the
area of the boat where the fish are landed. The fish
should be washed immediately, either with a simple
hosing down, if available, or by bucket rinses to
remove slime and spoilage bacteria. The wash water
can be clean seawater. However, the washing should
not be done near harbors, marinas, large boat bilging,
or any suspect area. When in doubt, use potable
water.

If fish remain exposed to the sun and the air on
deck or shore, summertime temperatures and solar
insulation can cause quality problems in less than one
hour. However, simply chilling seafood can prevent
quality deterioration and reduce the health risks
which can result from elevated temperatures. Proper
icing can be accomplished with a little advance
planning and some relatively inexpensive equipment.

The most effective chilling method available to
recreational anglers on a one-day trip is the use of a
brine slush solution. This is simply made by adding
clean sea water to ice (equal portions by weight) in a
water proof container. Immediately after washing, the
fish (alive or dead) should be immersed in the brine
slush and kept there until ready to dress (at the end
of the trip). Care should be taken when making up
the brine slush to avoid using sea water contaminated
with oil, fuel or dirt and slime. The slush should be
checked periodically to ensure it still contains ice.


Cleaning

Clean fish as soon as possible after catching them.
Scientists say that fish tissue is almost sterile but the
skin surface and viscera contain many types of
bacteria. The skin slime and viscera also provide food
for bacterial growth. Avoid rough treatment while
cleaning the fish. Gouges or wounds in the flesh are
openings which may allow the spread of bacteria.
Gut the fish with a smooth, not excessively long, belly
cut and leave no blood or viscera in the body cavity.
Thoroughly wash all cleaned fish and ice immediately
with fresh, clean ice. Do not dip cleaned fish in the
original brine slush. Do not immerse cleaned fillets in
a prolonged freshwater soak which could dilute and
reduce meat flavor and texture.

MAINTAINING QUALITY IN THE CATCH

Icing

Both crushed or flaked freshwater ice are good for
rapid chilling of cleaned fish. Fish stored in crushed
or flakes of ice remain moist and glossy and do not
dry out as fast as fish placed in refrigerated storage
without ice.

Each vessel operator should decide how much ice
is needed for each fishing trip by taking into account
the length of the trip, water and air temperatures, and
as nearly as possible, the size of catch expected. It's
better to throw out ice than fish at the end of a trip.

In general, fish stored in coolers will be
well-chilled when:

* three (3) inches of ice covers the bottom of the
box;
fish are laid in the cooler and mixed with ice, and
the contents are covered with another layer of ice
three inches deep.
the cooler contains one pound of ice for each
pound of fish stored in it.

After unloading, throw out all remaining ice to
prevent bacterial buildup between trips. To kill
bacteria and prevent contamination of new ice,
thoroughly wash and rinse the inside of the cooler,
then do a final rinse with chlorinated water or bleach
and water solution.


Page 5







Recreational Seafood Safety


FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Regulatory Agencies

For general advice and specific information on
harvestable shellfish waters and red tides write:

Florida Department of Natural Resources
Shellfish Environmental Assessment Section
Mail Station 205
3900 commonwealth Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32399

For information on obtaining public health advisories
from state agencies and local/county health programs,
write:

State Health Office
Florida Dept. of Health & Rehabilitative Services
1317 Winewood, Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0200


Educational Information

For general advice and related publications, contact
your local county extension office or write:

Florida Sea Grant College Program
Building 803
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-0341


Page 6




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