Buying shellfish

Guidelines to buying shellfish

  • Shellfish (i.e. mussels, clams and oysters) should be purchased alive. Shells of live clams, mussels and oysters may open naturally but will close tightly when tapped, indicating that they are alive. Discard any dead ones.
  • Live crabs and lobsters will show some leg movement. Lobsters will curl their tails tightly beneath them when handled.
  • Freshly shucked oysters and scallops have a fresh sea breeze odor. A clear, slightly milky or light gray liquid should surround freshly shucked oysters.
  • If in doubt about the source of any oysters, clams or mussels, ask seafood market personnel to show you the certified shipper’s tag that accompanies molluscan shellfish or check the shipper number on the container of shucked oysters.
  • Be sure that frozen shellfish is packed in close-fitting, moisture proof containers. Frozen prepared items such as crab cakes or breaded shrimp should be frozen solid with no sign of freezer burn (i.e. discoloration or drying) and no unpleasant odor.
  • When purchasing smoked seafood products, buy only fresh, clean product with an enticing smoked fish aroma.


Source: National Fisheries Institute

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