Shellfish is popular with diners year-round, and especially during summer months. It’s also high in protein and other essential nutrients, making it one of the more healthful foods your diners can order. Still, you and your staff must know how to handle this seafood properly to preempt foodborne illness outbreaks.

Ashley Miller, our food safety expert, offers five tips on how to source and serve seafood safely at your restaurant:

  1. When purchasing shellfish you’re planning to serve, make sure it has been sourced by an approved vendor and comes from approved, designated waters, which are monitored for extreme weather conditions or inefficient wastewater operations, among other things.
  1. Shipments of live shellfish – like oysters, mussels, clams and scallops – must be received at an air temp of no more than 45 degrees Fahrenheit and an internal temperature no greater than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They must also be checked to ensure they’re still alive. In addition, if the shellfish is already shucked you must receive it at no more than 45 degrees Fahrenheit; it also must be cooled to 41 degrees or lower within four hours. Finally, the shellfish must come with a shellstock identification tag that indicates where and when harvesting occurred.
  1. Store your shellfish in the original containers at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Do not remove the shellstock tag from the container until you remove the last shellfish. When you remove the last one, write the date on the shellstock tag and keep it on file for 90 days. Also, make sure to designate it as an allergen.
  1. When serving raw shellfish, place a consumer advisory label on your menu. In addition, handle ready-to-eat food with gloves, and appropriately prevent any hazards associated with allergen cross contact.
  1. When you serve cooked shellfish, you must cook it to a temperature of 145 Fahrenheit for 15 seconds. If held hot, the temperature should be 135 Fahrenheit or above.

Visit our Food Safety Focus website for more information and best practices for restaurants and our ServSafe website for testing and certification