You Should Think Twice Before Buying Fresh Shellfish At The Grocery Store

Shellfish lovers know that this class of animals (and food) is a vast one, ranging from shrimp to crab to oysters to mussels (via Healthline). Often regarded as more of a special occasion food, shellfish can be a delicious change of pace from the more standard beef, poultry, and pork we tend to cook up for lunch or dinner. According to UPI, most Americans eat much less seafood than they do meat, and that's a shame because options such as mussels can be inexpensive and quick to prepare, per BBC.

If you're reading this and the craving for shellfish has struck, you might want to head out shopping for the ingredients for dishes like garlic butter shrimp, oven-baked crab legs, or creamy garlic mussels. But if you're hoping to source all the elements from your grocery store, not so fast. It's probably not the best idea to buy shellfish at a supermarket unless it's frozen, not fresh.

'Fresh' seafood is not so fresh if you live inland

Unless you live in a coastal city, it's not advisable to purchase fresh shellfish from your standard grocery store or supermarket. According to The Spruce Eats, inland cities and towns just don't have access to shellfish that's truly fresh, no matter how it's labeled. Items such as live lobster in the tank may have been in the store for weeks, and are likely no longer fresh or high quality. The outlet advises looking for frozen clams, oysters, mussels, and lobsters if you live inland or selecting fish instead. However, fish labeled "fresh" is also likely anything but, per Medium

A pre-sliced filet or steak, the outlet writes, could have been cut from an animal fished weeks earlier. A better bet would be to purchase a whole fish, whose quality you can assess by checking its eyes, gills, and (lack of) odor, and have the store filet it for you, or do so at home. The article concurs that looking for frozen options is a good idea, after all, even in a supermarket such as Publix that claims that its fresh seafood has never been frozen, would you really want to buy "fresh" fish from Chile or Iceland? Probably not. 

So if you're craving seafood — or ocean fish, for that matter — and you don't live on a coast, it's probably best to head to your grocery store's freezer section.