Guidelines for safe seafood storage

Queenslanders love their seafood and in hot weather it's essential to keep it cool and fresh.

There are two products that increase in sales during the warmer months — ice and seafood. Many of us enjoy a feed of fresh or frozen seafood currently of year, whether it be prawns, oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster or fish.

But keeping seafood fresh before eating requires good refrigeration, so leaving a kilo of prawns in an esky overnight may not be the most appropriate storage solution.
The Sydney Fish Market is the largest in Australia and issues guidelines for the best temperatures to store fresh and frozen seafood. Here are some of the key things you should know to keep yours stored safely.

Why temperature is important

The primary cause of seafood spoilage is temperature. Storing seafood at the optimal temperature is crucial to ensure superior product quality, freshness and maximum shelf life.
It has been proven that seafood begins to deteriorate as soon as it is caught, or harvested, and then killed. This deterioration is irreversible and the rate at which deterioration occurs is determined by temperature. Therefore, appropriate refrigeration is so necessary.

The best temperature to store seafood

The optimal range for storing and/or transporting fresh seafood is between -1℃ and +5℃.
The rate of deterioration compounds as the product temperature increases. For example, seafood stored at 4℃ deteriorates twice as fast as seafood stored at 0℃, while at 10℃ seafood deteriorates four times as fast as the same seafood stored at 0℃.

Therefore, even when keeping seafood at 4℃, which is within the recommended range, it will still spoil twice as fast as it will at 0℃. Cooked king prawns will stay in peak condition for four days at 0℃, only two days at 4℃ and just one day at 10℃. Put simply, the warmer the product, the shorter the shelf life.

  • Fresh or wet seafood should be stored at -1℃ to +5℃.
  • Frozen seafood should be stored at -25℃ or below.
  • Seafood stored at 0℃ can last up to 12 days.
  • Seafood stored at 4℃ can last up to six days.
  • Seafood stored at 10℃ can last up to three days.

In simple terms, keep your seafood as cold as possible for it to last if possible. If you suspect your seafood is spoiled, don’t take the risk of getting food poisoning. Better to throw it out and buy fresh or eat something else entirely.