Shellfish Safety Tips

Harvesting shellfish | Selling and buying | Storing, handling cooking shellfish

Harvesting Shellfish

Shellfish Safety Tips

Bivalve Shellfish (such as oysters, clams, scallops, mussels, and cockles) feed on microscopic plankton in the water. Changes in water quality can cause bacteria, biotoxins, or viruses to build up in the shellfish tissue and make those who eat it sick.

Contaminated shellfish do not necessarily smell, taste or look different from uncontaminated shellfish.

More information

Learn more about shellfish safety at

Harvesting Shellfish

Only Harvest in Open Areas

Before harvesting shellfish, here is how to check that an area is open:

It is dangerous and illegal to harvest shellfish in closed areas. Closed areas are:

Always harvest at the water's edge when the tide is going out.

When in doubt, don't harvest!

Keep Your Shellfish Cold

Three ice cubes next to a thermometer indicating safe temperature remind you to keep the shellfish between 0-4 degrees Celsius (32-40 degrees Fahrenheit) as safe temperature.

Selling and Buying Shellfish

Selling and Buying Shellfish

Selling Healthy Shellfish

Always keep shellfish refrigerated between 0°C and 4°C (32 to 40°F) or frozen at -18°C (0°F) or colder

Buying Healthy Shellfish

Buy only from trusted retailers and restaurants. Live shellfish should have a shipper's tag

Are they good?

Fresh, healthy shellfish should have tightly closed shells or close when you tap them. Throw them away if they are open or if the shell is cracked or broken.

Storing, Handling and Cooking Shellfish

Storing, Handling and Cooking Shellfish

Shellfish Storing Times

Handling Shellfish

A hand open upwards from which comes out four lines leading to four images:

Cooking Shellfish

Scrub shells with a stiff brush under drinking water before cooking
Thoroughly cook shellfish to reduce the chances of foodborne illness
Throw away any shellfish that do not open once cooked