Expert explains what diners should look for when ordering seafood

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When it comes to safety, seafood experts say it’s not a question of whether it’s fresh or frozen, but how much has it been processed?

Fresh usually tastes better, but it also costs more. A seafood expert says there are just as many risks for foodborne illnesses whether it’s fresh or frozen.

The hepatitis A outbreak has raised concerns for sushi lovers, although not enough to stop eating it.

“We’re a little more careful, not as freely purchasing things, but we enjoy our Hawaii tradition so what can we say,” said Rory Chandler, a customer at Mitch’s Sushi.

There’s the fear of eating frozen seafood raw, but an importer says it’s more important to consider if it’s been processed and how much.

“Like if you’re farm-raising shrimp, they come out of the water whole. They have to be cooled and cleaned and then they’re further processed. They’re removing the heads or they’re removing the shells. That’s what I mean by processing,” explained Gary Ishimoto, a seafood importer.

As more steps are taken before the seafood arrives on your plate, then the risk grows.

“You’re exposing more of that product to air and the elements per se to water, to handling, to food contact, surfaces that all could be contaminated in the process of everyday working,” said Ishimoto.

There’s also the fear of eating imported seafood from the Philippines, but Ishimoto says the country is actually pretty advanced in sanitary guidelines, so there’s no reason to avoid seafood from there.

He adds that people are better off being more observant in restaurants, and making sure workers are practicing safe food-handling guidelines.

“Is it clean? Is it messy? Those types of signals are common, everyday housekeeping issues, so you’ll see it very evident if they’re doing those practices in washing their hands and wiping the tables, those types of things,” said Ishimoto. “That’s what I do when I go to a restaurant.”

Ishimoto adds that the technology for freezing foods has advanced, which has also cut down on the risks of foodborne illnesses.

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