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Shellfish 101

How to Assess Shellfish Quality

  • Use all your senses when selecting clams and oysters. You are buying a living organism and they must show signs of being healthy and fresh.
  • Look at the shellfish to see that it has a moist, fresh looking shell that is not gaping open. If a clam or oyster is agape, tapping the shell should cause it to close quickly, otherwise it is either dead or about to die.
  • Smell the shellfish. It should have a clean, sweet ocean smell and no hint of anything foul or fishy. If it smells at all off, reject it.
  • Listen to your shellfish. If you gently tap clams or oysters together, they should have a solid sound like pool balls knocking together indicating that they are tightly closed and full of liquid. If they make a clacky, hollow sound, they are probably weak and you should reject them.

Knowing the source

Handling shellfish to maintain their quality

*The NSSP is a consortium of federal, state and industry representatives that creates rules for the safe regulation of the shellfish industry.