Canned and pouch tuna are popular pantry and emergency staples because they are delicious, packed with good nutrition, and easy to keep on hand. Here are a few storage tips that will help you ensure the safety and freshness of your purchase:
It’s best to purchase fresh tuna from a store that has a good reputation for having a frequent supply of fresh fish. Get to know a fishmonger (the person who sells the fish) at the store, so you can have a trusted resource from whom you can purchase your fish with confidence.
Fresh whole tuna should be displayed buried in ice, while fillets and steaks should be placed on top of the ice. Avoid purchasing tuna that has dry or brown spots.
Smell can help you to determine if the tuna is fresh. Once you handle the wrapped up fish you’ve selected, take a sniff of it through the wrapping. If it has a truly strong fishy odor, return it.
Fresh seafood should be put on ice or placed in the refrigerator or freezer soon after buying it. Here is a helpful guideline for determining where to store it: If you intend to use it within two days after purchase, store your seafood in the refrigerator. However, if seafood won't be used within two days after purchase, wrap it tightly in moisture-proof freezer paper or foil to protect it from air leaks and store it in the freezer.
Thaw frozen seafood gradually by placing it in the refrigerator overnight. If you have to thaw seafood quickly, either seal it in a plastic bag and immerse it in cold water, or if the food will be cooked immediately thereafter, microwave it on the "defrost" setting and stop the defrost cycle while the fish is still icy but pliable.
When serving fresh seafood, you should still be careful of cross-contamination which can happen once your seafood is cooked, too. Here are some tips to keep your seafood safe when serving:
When you're preparing fresh or thawed seafood – or any type of fresh ‘protein’ food such poultry, pork or beef - it's important to prevent bacteria from the raw food from spreading to other ready-to-eat food.
These steps will help to avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods:
The dates marked on canned foods are voluntarily placed there by food companies and are not required by the FDA (except for infant formula and some baby foods).
Because the FDA is only concerned with food-borne illness (bacterial or other contamination of foods that cause sickness)—and, according to the FDA, unopened cans of food can be safe virtually forever from food-borne illness.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should eat canned foods that have been sitting on the shelf for a long time because the quality of the food may be poor. Food quality addresses the taste, texture and nutritional value of food. (Food spoilage, rancidity and freezer burn are all relate to food quality.)
Some manufacturers voluntarily date their products to tell consumers when a product is at best quality. The types of dates are listed below.
"Sell-by" dates tell stores how long to keep the product on the shelf for sale. Purchase foods well before the “sell-by” date has expired to ensure you have plenty of time to use the product at best quality.
"Best if used by" dates are not purchase or safety dates, but alert you to when the product should be used for best quality and flavor.
"Use-by" dates are determined by the manufacturer of the product and let you know the last date that is recommended for use of the product at best quality.
"Closed or coded" dates are packing numbers that manufacturers use to locate their product in case of a recall.