This Is What You Don't Want To See On The Packaging When You Buy Fish

It's no secret that fish is packed with health benefits. Whether it's tuna, salmon, or tilapia, fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamin D (via Good Housekeeping). According to women's health dietitian Valerie Agyeman, RD, fish is a "high-quality, lean protein to add to your eating routine for healthy muscles, bones, tissue, and skin."

That's certainly enough of a reason to grab some seafood the next time you're at the grocery store. However, there is one important thing to keep in mind when shopping for fish, and it doesn't have anything to do with the variety of seafood you choose. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, avoid buying frozen fish with ice crystals on the packaging. This often means that the fish has been stored in the freezer for a long time and isn't as fresh as the store may indicate. It can also be a sign that the fish has been thawed and then refrozen, which increases the risk of dangerous bacteria growing on the seafood. You should also avoid any fish in the freezer section of a store that is not completely frozen. These practices will ensure that you get fresh, safe fish when you shop.

Other tips for buying seafood

Ice crystals on the packaging aren't the only thing to avoid when buying fish. According to NBC News, fresh seafood shouldn't have a fishy smell. "If you walk into a store and the seafood section smells like seafood, turn around and go the other way," said Stephanie Harris-Uyidi, host of the "Posh Pescatarian: Appetite for Adventure" television series. Smelly fish is a sure sign that the products haven't been properly cleaned or stored.

You also want to take the time to look over each piece of fish before you throw it in your shopping cart. Fresh fish should have shiny scales and a bright color. Avoid dull, dry, or gray cuts of meat. If you aren't sure about a piece of fish, ask someone who works at the seafood counter how long the fish has been there. If they can't answer all of your questions, pick a different store. Fish is a great protein to add to your diet, but you'll want to follow these food safety tips to ensure you get all the health benefits possible.