Assessment of Current Guidelines for Culinary Preparation Methods of Fish and Shellfish
Consumers regularly decide to consume fish and shellfish raw or undercooked, which can cause foodborne illness due to product contamination or unsafe handling by the consumer. In order to be considered safe for consumption, intact fish and shellfish should be prepared to an internal temperature of 63"C, according to the 2009 FDA Food Code, with Salmonella spp. as the target organism. Focus groups (5 groups, 32 participants) were conducted to determine consumer beliefs and concerns regarding fish and shellfish safety and preparation. Transcripts of focus groups where coded for themes, which were then grouped into categories. Nine categories emerged including: experience, trust, confidence, quality of product, motivation, concerns, cooking procedures, cooking instructions, and knowledge. Emerging themes were used to help develop educational materials to increase consumer ability to properly prepare fish and shellfish. In a separate experiment, participants (n=6) cooked salmon (baked, broiled), tilapia (baked, broiled), and shrimp (broiled, boiled) according to cookbook-based directions. Internal temperatures of products were recorded, with 33.3% of products cooked to a temperature less than 63"C. A group training session was held, during which participants received additional visual and non-oral cues to determine when products were prepared to 63"C and safe food handling practices. After training, participants prepared the same products. Participants demonstrated improved food safety behaviors and were more successful at cooking products to temperatures "63"C (94.4% of products). Improved cooking instruction and educational materials may reduce the risk of foodborne illness from undercooked fish and shellfish.