From blue crabs to sea trout, Delaware offers a bounty of fresh seafood. But before you head out to purchase your next bushel of crabs or pound of fillets, let's test your "Seafood Safety IQ."
Once you've purchased fresh fish at the market, at what temperature should you keep it refrigerated? And how long can you safely store the fish in the refrigerator before preparing it?
If you're unsure of the answers, mark your calendar for Thursday, July 29, at 7 p.m., when seafood specialist Doris Hicks will present "Flounder and Bluefish and Crabs, Oh My! -- What Consumers Need to Know about Seafood Safety," a free, public lecture at the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies in Lewes. The talk is part of the Ocean Currents Lecture Series featured at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus once a month through September.
As seafood specialist for the University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, Hicks works with both the seafood industry and consumers to develop educational programs about the proper way to handle, store, and prepare finfish and shellfish.
During her lecture, Hicks will provide consumers with an overview of the nutritional benefits of seafood and the handling and preparation techniques that consumers should follow to preserve seafood quality and prevent food-borne illness. As a special treat, the audience will be invited to sample one of Hicks' favorite seafood recipes after the lecture.
"Delaware markets offer a tremendous variety of fresh seafood, particularly now during the summer months when many species, from flounder to blue crabs, are readily available in local waters," says Hicks. "A mandatory seafood inspection program is in place to provide consumers the safest seafood possible. Consumers need to follow through with proper handling techniques, from purchase to preparation, to prevent food safety problems."
Hicks has developed a variety of publications to help teach consumers about seafood nutrition and handling. Recently, she co-authored a brochure on seafood safety that is now being distributed in 14 states. She also writes the popular "Seafood Advisor" column in Seafood Source, a newsletter published by the National Fisheries Institute for more than 17,000 readers, including dieticians, food writers, and seafood industry personnel.
In addition to these outreach efforts, Hicks serves as a seafood safety instructor, providing training programs to seafood processors throughout the region. She also has conducted research with University of Delaware colleagues to explore new technologies for pasteurizing seafood.
Hicks received her bachelor's degree in food science from Rutgers University and her master's degree in food science and human nutrition from the University of Delaware.
Her lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in Room 104, Cannon Laboratory, at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes. The hour-long talk will be followed by light refreshments.
While the lecture is free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. To reserve your seat, please contact the college at (302) 645-4279. For more information, visit the college's Web site at www.ocean.udel.edu.