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Seafood is a broad category of aquatic animals that includes freshwater and saltwater fish, molluscan shellfish and crustaceans. Seafood is a nutrient-dense, low-fat food that is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Nutrient-dense foods generally provide positive health benefits, with relatively few calories.

The current recommendation from the government and health organizations is to eat two seafood meals each week from a variety of seafood. However, current per capita consumption of all seafood in the United States falls inadequately short of the recommended amount of seafood per week. Research supports the determination that scientists from universities and government, and healthcare professionals have all concluded that for most people the overall benefits of eating seafood twice per week outweigh potential food safety risks.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 make several key recommendations regarding weight management, foods and food components to reduce, and foods and nutrients to increase. Specifically, for seafood the guidelines recommend:

  • Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
  • Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.

For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • Consume 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week from a variety of seafood types.
  • Due to their high methyl mercury content, limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week and do not eat the following four types of fish: tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel.

The target audience for this curriculum includes family and consumer sciences educators, nutritionists, dieticians, food service personnel and nutrition outreach professionals. The learner audience is your clientele. A growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates that the dietary and physical activity recommendations described in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 may help people attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health. Seafood at Its Best provides an opportunity for teaching the specific seafood recommendations of the Guidelines; a food that is low in calories and a source of high-quality protein. This curriculum is designed to educate clientele about seafood, often poorly understood in terms of selection, handling, storage, preparation, health benefits and actual risks relative to perceived risks.

Some sections of the curriculum provide extensive technical background information, especially lesson 3. This information is for your benefit; you do not need to present all of it to your clientele.

Due to the amount of material in the curriculum, you may find it easier to present the material over two or more days, rather than attempt to do it all on one day. Whenever you can, tailor the curriculum to local conditions. For example, if you live on the coast, you may want to emphasize shellfish and marine fish.

The Seafood at Its Best curriculum comprises four lessons:

What is Seafood?

  • Definition of seafood
  • Where our seafood comes from
  • Consumer preferences
  • Future seafood supply and demand

Health Benefits

  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
  • Health benefits associated with eating seafood
  • Seafood recommendations

Seafood-Borne Illnesses and Risks from Eating Seafood

  • Potential health risks associated with eating seafood
  • Context on the potential health risk of eating seafood
  • Seafood safety inspection and Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)

Selecting, Buying, Handling, Storing and Cooking

  • Selecting seafood products
  • Amount of seafood to purchase
  • Storing seafood
  • Cooking seafood

The curriculum materials consist of an introduction for the instructor, lecture notes, an introduction for each lesson, suggested activities, a PowerPoint presentation for each lesson, references for additional information and evaluation tools.

Two recommended sources of additional information are Seafood Health Facts: Making Smart Choices, Balancing the Benefits and Risks of Seafood Consumption. Resources for Healthcare Providers and Consumers and Seafood Network Information Center, Sea Grant Extension Program.

Information on a variety of topics is available from these two sites, including consumer seafood information, health and nutrition, benefits and risks and, sustainability and regulations. Additionally, publications for downloading and other links are provided.

  • How to store seafood properly
  • How to cook seafood items

Seafood at its Best is a University of Idaho Extension curriculum that provides lessons to help educate consumers where seafood comes from, benefits and risks of eating seafood.

Gary Fornshell and Rhea Lanting (retired) are Extension educators in University of Idaho Extension, Twin Falls County, are the authors of this curriculum. 

We would like to thank the following individuals for their role in developing, reviewing, promoting and testing Seafood at Its Best.

University of Idaho reviewers

  • Martha Raidl, Ph.D., R.D., Extension nutrition education specialist
  • Sandy McCurdy, Ph.D., Extension food safety specialist
  • Debra Rumford, design technician, family and consumer sciences

External reviewers

  • David Cline, Extension specialist, Cooperative Extension Systems, Auburn University
  • Kevin Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., aquaculture specialist, professor, Environmental Research Lab, University of Arizona
  • Doris Hicks, seafood technology specialist, Marine Advisory Service, University of Delaware Sea Grant
  • Paul Olin, director, Sea Grant Extension program, University of California-Davis
  • Barbara Rasco, Ph.D., J.D., professor, fellow, Institute of Food Technologists, Washington State University
  • Carla Vaughn, nutrition educator (FSCEP), University of California-Davis
  • Stacy Viera, former director of public relations, National Fisheries Institute

Pilot testers

  • Nancy Balcom, Extension educator, Connecticut Cooperative Extension System, University of Connecticut
  • Gef Flimlin, marine Extension agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Rutgers University
  • Tessa Getchis, associate Extension educator, Connecticut Sea Grant, University of Connecticut
  • Doris Hicks, seafood technology specialist, Marine Advisory Service, University of Delaware Sea Grant
  • Audrey Liddil, Extension educator, University of Idaho Extension

University of Idaho Extension, Twin Falls County

  • We thank Hansi-Barbara Younkin and Suzanne Simon for their contributions.


University of Idaho Extension, Twin Falls County

Mailing Address:
630 Addison Ave W, Suite 1600
Twin Falls, ID 83301

Phone: 208-734-9590

Fax: 208-734-9591



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