Whether you’re looking to eat a little healthier or just prefer the ease of no-prep snacks, shrimp cocktail is one of the healthier and more nutritious options available.
According to Health.com, shrimp is packed full of protein, is low in calories (one medium to large shrimp has only 7 calories), and provides some key nutrients — making it a great option for a quick bite or dinner party appetizer.
But according to a recent report from Consumer Reports, serving the seafood without taking certain safety precautions can result in not-so-healthy food poisoning.
The health risks
The team over at Consumer Reports tested nearly 500 pounds of frozen shrimp (raw and cooked) from various stores across 27 different U.S. cities. Here’s what they found: 60% of the raw shrimp and 16% of the cooked shrimp contained bacteria, including vibrio and E. coli — harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning and a variety of associated symptoms, including diarrhea and dehydration. See which shrimp Consumer Reports suggests buying here.
But just like many other foods that come with potential health risks, if you take proper safety precautions while preparing and cooking, you can enjoy your shrimp and avoid getting sick.
So to help you (and your dinner guests) stay healthy while enjoying the seafood snack, Consumer Reports put together a list of tips to serve the safest and healthiest shrimp.
5 safety tips for preparing and serving shrimp
1. Choose wild shrimp caught in the U.S.
In Consumer Reports’ testing of raw shrimp, samples of U.S. wild shrimp were least likely to contain bacteria. Only 20% of the U.S. wild shrimp contained bacteria, while between 69% to 83% of shrimp from Indonesia, India and Bangladesh contained bacteria.
2. Buy it last at the store
Bacteria found on the food begins to multiply at temperatures above 40° F, so it’s important to keep shrimp cool for as long as possible. If you have a long grocery list, stop by the seafood counter last. You can also ask for a bag of ice to keep it cold on the way home.
3. Wash, wash, wash
Even if the plan is to cook the raw shrimp, if you handle it during the prep work (maybe while de-deveining), wash your hands and any utensils you used immediately with soap and water. CR says that reduces the risk of spreading any bacteria to other foods you may be serving. If you want to be sure that bacteria is eliminated, run any kitchen utensils or other cookware you used with the raw shrimp through your dishwasher’s hottest cycle. See more tips on handling and preparing shrimp here.
4. Always keep it refrigerated
After you’ve done all the prep work, place the shrimp back in the fridge until it’s time to eat. Consumer Reports says to make sure that shrimp and all other foods are stored safely, make sure your fridge stays between 35° F and 38° F.
Read more: What to know about food expiration dates
5. Put it on ice
If you’re going to keep shrimp out for more than two hours (or one hour in temperatures above 90° F), then it’s best to serve it on a chilled platter and keep it chilled on ice.
For more tips from Consumer Reports, click here.