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I'm guessing that seafood displayed in refrigerators aren't exposed to room temperature

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would be fresher than seafood exposed on ice?

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    But you also have to consider that ice (max 32°F) is colder than the standard temperature for a fridge (40°F). So if you put it in the fridge, you want to put it on ice in the fridge (but rigged up so the fish doesn't end up sitting in melt water) But what really matters is how long it's been since it was caught and/or defrosted – Joe Dec 13 '18 at 1:12
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    Joe is right. Outdoors on the waterfront with ice has a better chance of fresh than indoor supermarket in refrigerator. – Lorel C. Dec 13 '18 at 1:18
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    Not to mention that a lot of "fresh" seafood displayed on ice (or not) in grocery stores came in frozen and is simply thawed and put in the case. – Cindy Jul 19 at 0:17
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    Define "fresh". Optimal, in many cases, doesn't mean just out of the water. A lot of seafood is at it's prime after the fish has passed through rigor mortis. So, it actually needs some time after it's been killed. – moscafj Jul 19 at 0:26
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    So, by "fresh" do you mean optimal? ...or, perhaps a better question is: What is the optimal way to preserve the freshness of fish in a retail situation? – moscafj Jul 19 at 0:36
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Based on your other post, I am assuming you are in Canada. And in Canada, fish have to be labeled previously frozen or fresh based on its storage history. So assuming we are only talking about the ones labeled fresh. Here is what I have experienced.

Between choices above the "fresher" option doesn't really exist both options the fish have been sitting for some time. As a result that "shore-side" freshness is lost. However, a more optimal tasting fish would be from the covered ones because it is chilled and has not exposed to room temperature air for as long. This helps preserve the moisture and texture of the fish.

The other thing to consider is, were the fish (or other seafood) farmed or naturally caught. Because, and this is especially true for fish, the taste will differ greatly, as will even the colour of the meat.

So in short - the covered one is more "fresh" and neither is truly fresh.

Hope this helps.

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