The Shopper’s Guide to Buying the Safest and Healthiest Shrimp

Find out what to look for when you’re buying shrimp in the seafood aisle.

Do you love shrimp? It’s one of the most popular seafood options in the country and Americans eat about four pounds of these popular crustaceans each year. Around 90 percent of the shrimp we eat is raised outside of the United States in large farms. These farm-raised shrimp can be exposed to pesticides, antibiotics, and chemicals, which are used to keep shrimp disease-free. If you’re looking to buy fresh shrimp at your local grocery store, follow these tips from core expert and food journalist Mark Schatzker to ensure you’re getting the best shrimp possible for you and your family. For convenience, print a copy of this shrimp shopping guide to reference when you're at the grocery store.


  1. Look for shrimp with intact shells that feel firm, not slimy, when touched.
  2. Unless you’re buying shrimp that should have spots (such as spot prawns), look for shrimp without black spots on their shells. Black spots may mean the shrimp’s flesh has started to break down.
  3. Skip shrimp with a yellow color or ones that have a gritty appearance. These two characteristics may indicate that chemicals such as sodium bisulfate have been used to bleach the shells.
  4. Smell shrimp before you purchase them and choose shrimp with a saltwater scent, which means they’re fresh. Avoid shrimp with a rancid scent like ammonia.

Once you’ve bought the freshest shrimp, try these delicious shrimp dishes:

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