Finding Problems With Your Restaurant

The Freshness Of The Sea: 3 Tips To Tell Whether Seafood Is Fresh

by Peppi Hautala

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend Americans to eat at least two servings, or 3 to 6 ounces, of seafood each week, as it is rich in essential vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. Seafood is always best when consumed fresh, but have you ever wondered just how fresh the seafood at your local restaurants is? Use these 3 tips as a guideline as to whether the seafood really captures the freshness of the sea like the restaurants claim.

Ask to See the Fish

If you're ordering a dish with a fresh whole fish, you can always request to see the fish for your own eyes if the fish isn't swimming around in a tank for display. No matter what type of fish you have chosen for your entrée, all fresh fish possess the same type of features as a symbol of freshness – shiny eyes and deep pink gills. Although this next trait may vary, you should also expect the scales to look relatively shiny as well.

If you're ordering a steak or a fillet, make sure you see that the fish is stored on ice. It should never be placed anywhere else, as it will cause the meat to lose its freshness. The meat should also look moist, and possess a slight sheen to it.

Take a Good Whiff of the Crustaceans

It's difficult to tell whether the crustaceans, such as lobsters or shrimp, are indeed fresh if the restaurants don't have any live ones around – especially since their eyes never seem to have a shine to them and it is difficult to determine freshness from the meat. Instead, you should take a good whiff of them in order to get a good idea of freshness. Fresh crustaceans will smell like the sea and should not smell fishy at all.

Inspect Mollusks for Movement

If you love mollusks, like oysters, clams or mussels, you'll need to be a bit more patient to determine whether or not they are fresh. This is due to the fact that the flesh is enclosed within a shell, and it is impossible to determine freshness simply from the outside. You'll have to simply wait and see whether the mollusks occasionally open their shelves or not. If you tap lightly on the shells of some mollusks, like mussels, you should see it snap shut immediately. This is a protective mechanism employed by the mussels, and can only be activated if they are alive.

Another general rule of thumb is to discard any mollusks that come to your table with the shells still closed. If the shells don't open, then chances are that the mollusks inside are not fresh at all.


Fresh seafood is not only delicious, but also very nutritious. If you're going to a local seafood restaurant, make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck by actually asking to see the seafood in order to determine whether it is fresh or not. If you're looking for fresh seafood in your area, visit Gulf Shores Steamer.