Seafood – During Pregnancy? Safe?

May 18, 2011

Diet Tips, Dieting, Healthy Life

Is Seafood Safe During Pregnancy?

Seafood Do’s and Don’ts

Normally, when you cook fish or any animal product, cooking the food to the correct temperature reduces or kills the bacteria. That’s why it is very important to know the correct degree to cook the interior of your beef, fish, chicken and eggs. Keep foods out of the danger zone: 40 degrees Fahrenheit up to 140 degrees F. Keep cold foods below 40 degrees F and hot foods above 140 F. Always thoroughly wash your hands after touching raw fish or seafood, and carefully clean and disinfect all surfaces the food has touched.

Uncleaned, raw or undercooked fish may carry a risk of parasitic infection (worms), though shellfish is the culprit behind the majority of seafood-borne illness. The FDA says the greatest risk is from raw or undercooked molluscan shellfish, particularly clams, oysters and mussels from contaminated waters. Bacteria such as SalmonellaVibrio parahemolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus and Staphylococcus aureus have all been found in raw seafood. Still, the risk of getting sick from raw shellfish is about one in 250,000, compared with the one in a million chance of illness from any other type of seafood.

Choosing Wisely

When choosing fish and shellfish at the grocery store, look for the Grade A label and for the U.S. Department of Interior shield. The shield means that the fish were packed under continuous inspection by the Department of the Interior. The characteristics to look for in fish are shiny, unfaded skin, red gills and clear eyes. A mild odor is OK. Frozen fish should be encased in airtight packaging and frozen solidly.

When you purchase fresh fish, refrigerate it immediately and cook it within the next 48 hours. Freeze the fish if you are not serving it within the next three days. Fish should stay good in the freezer for about three to six months, as long as you keep it frozen at a constant temperature.

Chemicals and Toxins in Your Fish

Chemicals released into the oceans and fresh waters, however, are more difficult to avoid than preventable illness. Toxic chemicals found in some fish, such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), PBBs (polybrominated biphenyls) and mercury, are the result of uncontrolled outflow from factories.

Safe Seafood Strategies

Low-fat fish are the best to eat, since chemicals are stored in fatty tissue. Cod, haddock and pollock are less than 2 percent oil, which may be why they are considered the safest. Fish most likely to be contaminated are catfish, bluefish, striped bass, tuna, shark and swordfish. They may have high levels of mercury and should be avoided before and during pregnancy. The way to protect yourself against chemicals is to ask how fresh the fish is and where it was caught. You can call your local health department to ask where the safest fish to eat are caught.

When You’re Not at Home

The way to protect yourself when you go out to eat at a seafood restaurant is to go to ones that are busy all the time. Generally, that indicates that they are going through their seafood more quickly, so it’s not sitting around growing more and more bacteria. As a general rule, if the restaurant looks dirty in the dining room, it’s probably worse in the kitchen area. So, choose your restaurants wisely. The same goes for your local grocery store. Try shopping at a grocery store that carries all organically grown produce and other naturally grown foods. They may be less likely to carry fish exposed to chemicals. In addition, avoid eating sushi with raw fish, and any other raw fish or shellfish while pregnant. They are more likely to be sources of parasites and bacteria.

The Benefits of Eating Fish

Don’t forget that fish is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats not made by the body that are essential fatty acids. Any nutrient not made by the body or not made in sufficient quantities to meet physiological needs is considered essential, and must be provided by the diet. Linolenic acid is a member of the omega-3 fatty acid family.

When you ingest omega-3 fatty acids, your body is able to produce eicosapentaenoic acids (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA). DHA is well known for its role in the retina of the eye and the cerebral cortex of the brain. About half of the DHA in our bodies is accumulated in the brain before birth. The best sources for linolenic acid besides fish and shellfish are fats and oils, such as canola, soybean, walnut, wheat germ and margarine. Other sources are nuts and seeds, though human milk is also a good source of DHA and EPA.

Not all fish is off limits during pregnancy. It’s just a matter of choosing what is right for you during this unique time in your life.

Safest Seafood and What to Avoid
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that an expectant mom can safely eat up to 12 ounces a week, which is two average meals, of the following:

Shrimp
Canned light tuna, but limiting albacore tuna and tuna steak to no more than 6 ounces a week
Salmon
Pollock
Catfish
Fish to avoid include the following:

King mackerel
Tilefish
Shark
Swordfish
Yellow perch
Brook trout
Rainbow trout
Carp
Whitefish
Barracuda
Red snapper


This site is for information and support only and NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment!
dieting, pregnancy, pregnant, seafood, tips, weight loos

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