The best shellfish are fresh and live ones. They only not taste best, shellfish are also safer to eat when they are fresh. Mussels, clams and other shellfish that have been improperly stored or left in inappropriate conditions for too long can die and produce toxins known as scombrotoxins or histamines that when consumed can lead to food poisoning.
Fresh shellfish should close up when you tap on them. Immediately remove and discard shellfish that are unresponsive from the lot to prevent them from contaminating the good ones. Cook fresh shellfish immediately or place them in a damp (not soaking) and cold environment to prolong their freshness.
The container they are stored in should also allow air circulation to prevent the shellfish from suffocating. Do not soak the shellfish in water. If you want to store shellfish for a longer time, cook them first before freezing. Do not freeze fresh uncooked shellfish.
The same precautions must be observed when shipping fresh shellfish. Here are some tips on how to properly pack and ship fresh shellfish to ensure that they arrive in the best and freshest conditions.
Poke holes around the sides and lid of a disposable plastic container using an ice pick or any pointed tool. Line the bottom of the container with damp (not soaking) paper towels and place the shellfish on top. Place more damp paper towels on top of the shellfish before putting on the lid. The container must be filled with shellfish and damp paper towels to minimize the movement. Alternatively, Ziploc bags with holes in it can also be used instead of a plastic container. Do not use airtight containers when shipping live shellfish.
Place the packaged shellfish inside an insulated Styrofoam box with air holes for circulation. Keep the shellfish container in place by filling void spaces with newspaper or bubble wrap. Add a couple of cold packs inside the box to keep the temperature low.
Close and seal the Styrofoam box and place it in a slightly larger shipping box. Fill voids, if any, with newspaper or bubble wrap before closing the shipping box and sealing it with packing tape.
Address and label the package and take to the post office or shipping company. Ship overnight or use any expedited service.