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September 9, 2010

Snails Are Fish Too...

During a recent food safety class, I had one of the attendees ask a question I couldn't answer: On what refrigerator shelf would I store escargot?  Instantly, my mouth closed and I began to get the feeling that I had missed the memo and was somehow in the middle of an episode of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader."  Yes-- I was stumped, rendered speechless me... the ever talkative one.   AH! I had no idea.  Not like snails are a hot item here in Missoula, but nonetheless... I should know!  So what did I do?  What every good little food nerd should... got online, then contacted the USDA, then contacted the regional outpost of the FDA who then forwarded me to the district FDA rep.  Finally, the fabulous Brad Tufto came through like Alanis in Dogma-- snails are fish too, he said, at least they are according  to the 2009 FDA Food Code.

So what does this mean?  Well, even though we do not think of snails as we do tuna, the Food Code somehow does.  That means we must keep snails with the fish and shellfish in the cooler, above all other raw products but below all ready-to-eat items.  They must be cooked to at least 145F before service and all of the usual hot and cold holding requirements must be followed.  Lastly, while shell tags and freeze kill paperwork do not accompany these slimy little buggers like their fish and shellfish counterparts, you do have to make sure that you get the devils from a reputable snail dealer.  Yes... no lemons... and no, I'm not meaning the fruit.

Cross-Contamination; Sources/Recalls; Temperature/Time
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