Enjoy Michigan’s bountiful fish safely

Safe preparation tips for Michigan fish.

Fresh Michigan caught fish is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals, but the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) advises us to be cautious about eating some types of fish too often. The 2016 Michigan Fishing Guide will be available April 1, along with this year’s licenses, from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Check this guide for all rules and regulations for fishing in our waters, and plan for the 2016 Free Fishing Weekend this summer, which will be on June 11 and 12.

There are some things you must keep in mind when fishing locally for fish. Chemicals may end up in our lakes and rivers due to runoff from farms and manufacturers. Some of these chemicals do not dissipate and end up in our fish. Eating polluted fish may not make us sick right away, but the buildup of ingested chemicals can cause health problems if we eat too much of them.

Most fish are safe to eat and we can make the fish we catch even safer by following some simple tips:

  • Trim and cook. Cut off all visible fat, this is where the chemicals tend to be stored. Remove the skin, or poke holes in it before cooking to help the fat drain. Bake, broil or grill fish on a rack and discard the drippings. Refrain from eating the head, skin, bones, guts or those dark fatty areas and don’t re-use the oil used to deep- or pan-fry fish.
  • Eat smaller, younger fish. Larger, older fish have had more time to collect pollutants.
  • Eat fish from different places. Catch from different lakes or rivers, or purchase from different stores or restaurants.
  • Don’t eat fatty fish. Most chemicals collect in the fish’s fat, so stay away from carp and catfish from polluted waters. Purchase catfish from the grocery instead.
  • Use MDCH Guidelines. Mercury stays in the fish and cannot be cut or cooked away. Choose fish that is low in mercury.

Michigan State University Extension recommends looking for ways to incorporate fish into your diet. Fishing is a great hobby which can be done throughout one’s lifespan and a great family activity. Cooking fish safely can be another family activity – go to http://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/ for fish recipes that can be prepared at little cost. Remember to clean and sanitize all surfaces before and after preparation, trim well, and cook to the minimum required temperature to ensure a safe product. If you would like more information about food safety, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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