catch and cook

“Catch and cook” restaurants offer a unique dining experience where patrons can catch their seafood, which is then prepared and served by the restaurant. This concept appeals to seafood enthusiasts and those looking for a fresh and interactive dining experience. However, while engaging, the catch and cook model can pose various risks to diners, ranging from food safety concerns to legal implications.

Keep reading for more from our Florida personal injury lawyers. If you fell ill or were harmed at a “catch and cook” restaurant, contact us to schedule a free consultation.


Food safety concerns

1. Handling and preparation

  • Cross-contamination – Handling raw seafood and preparing it can lead to cross-contamination if not managed properly. Restaurants must follow strict guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and utensils.
  • Proper cooking – Seafood must be cooked to appropriate temperatures to ensure all harmful bacteria and parasites are killed. The FDA recommends cooking fish to an internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C).

2. Allergic reactions

Customers with seafood allergies might be exposed to allergens through cross-contamination or by needing to understand the types of seafood caught and cooked fully.

3. Parasites and toxins

Some fish species carry parasites, and mishandling or inadequate cooking can lead to health issues like Anisakiasis. Additionally, certain fish may contain toxins not eliminated through cooking, such as ciguatera toxin in larger reef fish.

Legal and environmental considerations

1. Licensing and regulations

Restaurants offering catch and cook services must comply with local health department regulations and obtain necessary licenses for selling seafood. In Florida, these activities are regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which ensures that seafood is caught and sold per state laws.

2. Sustainable practices

  • Overfishing concerns – Catch and cook operations must ensure they are not contributing to overfishing. They should adhere to sustainable fishing practices to prevent the depletion of local fish populations.
  • Seasonal restrictions – Certain fish species are subject to seasonal fishing restrictions to promote sustainable ecosystems. Restaurants must stay informed about these regulations to avoid legal issues and promote environmental stewardship.

Customer liability and restaurant responsibilities

1. Duty of care

Restaurants have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of the food they serve. This includes the catch-and-cook model, in which the restaurant must ensure that all seafood is safe for consumption.

2. Customer awareness

Some restaurants might require customers to sign waivers acknowledging the risks of consuming self-caught seafood, including potential exposure to parasites and allergens.

Practical tips for safe dining

1. Research the restaurant

Check if the restaurant adheres to health codes and has a good reputation for food safety.

2. Understand the risks

Be aware of the potential risks of eating raw or undercooked seafood and make informed choices about what to eat.

3. Communicate with staff

Discuss any food allergies or concerns with the staff before participating in catch-and-cook activities.

Did you fall ill after eating at a catch-and-cook restaurant? Call us.

While the catch-and-cook model offers an exciting and interactive dining experience, it comes with its own risks that patrons and restaurants must manage. Ensuring compliance with food safety standards and legal regulations is crucial to making the experience enjoyable and safe for everyone involved. But when restaurants fail to meet basic food safety standards, they can and should be liable for damages. Call Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath at (561) 655-1990 to learn your options.