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 Recommendations when buying fish during Lent

Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social > English > Recommendations when buying fish during Lent
Press release  


-  Some of the features of fresh fish, fit for consumption have to do with the eyes, which should be transparent, firm, bright, bulging and with a dark pupil.

Bogotá, D.C., March 4, 2014. Given the increased consumption of fish and river and sea food during the Lent period prior to Easter, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection has recommendations to the public about the features to be taken into account when buying and preparing these foods.

The products must be purchased from recognized and trusted establishments that meet proven health measures to preserve and ensure the basic conditions of hygiene. They should also be able to respond in case of a claim.

The manipulator’s hands must be clean, without lacerations or wounds on his/her skin. It is also advisable to wear clothing that prevents product contamination.

Items sold to the public in open displays should be kept in a bed of ice. Fish should have its characteristic color, without blood on it or other particles that spoil it.

In the shopping cart, separate the meat, poultry and fish from fruit and vegetables, placing them in plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping on other foods.

Handling of the products at home
At the time of preparation, prevent cross-contamination, keeping the fresh fish, shellfish, crustaceans and their liquids away from ready-to-eat foods and other surfaces.

Wash hands well with soap and water before eating and/or preparing food, after using the restroom, changing a diaper or if you have been in contact with feces or vomit of a sick person or a person who you suspected is sick.

Protect food and cooking areas from insects, pests and other animals, keeping food in sealed containers.

Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry and fish.

Do not leave cooked food at room temperature more than two hours. Also, do not thaw at room temperature.

Keep fresh meat, poultry and fish in the refrigerator or freezer, and avoid eating raw fish or seafood.

Features of fresh fish
The following table shows the features of good quality fish. Keep them in mind when shopping:

In place, occupying the entire orbital cavity. They are transparent, firm, bright, bulging and with a dark pupil.
From pink to deep red, moist and bright, with uniform appearance without viscous substances, and with a slight smell of the sea.
Flesh (meat)
It should be firm and elastic to the touch, well attached to the bone and does not detach from the bone when pressure is exerted by the fingers; appropriate color and the cut surface is brilliant.
Pleasant, with an ocean aroma.
Joined together, well bonded to the skin, with metallic shine, not slimy.
Abdominal cavity
Completely gutted and clean, surface without tearing, shiny.
Firm, moist, smooth, attached to the flesh, without wrinkles or lacerations, appropriate color and appearance for the species.
In good condition, complete, no rips, must not have lacerations or tears.

Dried fish must be white to yellow, with no red spots and the smell must be distinctive and not seasoned.

Canned fishery products must have a complete label, showing at least the following information: name of product, batch, health registration, manufacturer and/or importer information and expiration date. The latter, in particular, must be printed on the label or the can, not by adhesive or showing signs of tampering.
Verify that the packaging is not bulging, rusted, perforated or bashed and follow the instructions once the product is opened. In addition, you should wash the cans before consuming the contents, which should be consumed the day that the cans and/or bottles are opened.

Fresh squid and octopus should be firm; they must also be moist, with a bright appearance and soft smells. If the product is cooked or prepared for consumption, we recommend eating it immediately. It should not be stored, frozen or reheated.

Dead fresh crustaceans (such as lobster, shrimp, crab, shrimp and barnacles) must be gray or reddish ash when removed from the water and red hot once cooked. The limbs must be strong, firm, well attached to the body; the eyes should shine and fill the whole orbit, bulging from it; the skin should be firm, without black spots. When ready to be eaten, it should not be bitter or sour and the smell should be proper of each species.


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