Summer 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 2 // Ideas at Work // 2IAW1

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Promoting Seafood for Health


Karen K. Filchak
Extension Educator/Home Economics
University of Connecticut-Brooklyn

Mary Ellen Welch
Extension Educator/Home Economics
University of Connecticut-Haddam

According to a 1985 study,1 66% of consumers ate seafood at restaurants, while only 33% consumed seafood at home. Lack of knowledge and confidence in selecting and preparing fish and seafood products are often reasons for low home consumption. Studies have also shown that consumption of seafood, as little as "the equivalent to one or two fish dishes a week, may be of value in the prevention of coronary heart disease."2 Based on these findings, Connecticut Cooperative Extension home economists and a marine advisory agent identified seafood education as a priority and developed materials for educators and consumers. A special effort was made to increase awareness of underused fish and seafood abundant in the Northeast.

In July 1986, a day-long, inservice educational program was held for 23 home economics teachers. The morning session consisted of an enviro-lab boat trip that focused on the marine environment. The afternoon component included a lab session on nutrition, food safety, selection, storage, and preparation of seafood products. Each participant filleted a whole fish, shucked clams and oysters, and cleaned squid and mussels.

A resource packet was compiled for use by teachers. Lesson plans were developed on: nutrition; seafood dietary guidelines, sodium count, cholesterol content, and omega-3 fatty acids; eyeing and buying fish; and food safety, storage, and preparation methods. Reference texts were provided to teachers to supplement the resource materials.

To encourage teachers to implement lesson plans with their students, a follow-up evaluation was conducted in Spring 1987 to see how they were using the information they received. The evaluation of the inservice education program and packet indicated that 57% of the 14 teachers who returned the survey conducted a seafood unit with their students.

Respondents used the information/ideas as follows:

  • 93% nutrition.
  • 57% preparing finfish.
  • 50% preparing shellfish.
  • 50% storing fish.
  • 36% fishing industry.


1. Better Homes and Gardens, Seafood Consumer Panel, 1985.

2. Dann Kromhout, Edward B. Bosschierer, and Cor De Lezenne Coulander, "The Inverse Relation Between Fish Consumption and 20- Year Mortality from Coronary Heart Disease," The New England Journal of Medicine, CCCXII (May 9, 1985), 1,207.