Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

+ Traceability of our Fish & Seafood - FAOs

Most of Bar Harbor® Fish and Seafood is MSC® Certified sustainably harvested and through this certification the fish and seafood can be traced back to a particular fishery in the world’s oceans, and in many cases to the boat! The ocean is parceled into FAO areas. Our Atlantic Herring and Sardines come from the Gulf of Maine, which is in FAO 21. Our Sea and Ocean Clams come from FAO 21 - 31. And our Alaskan Salmon and Pollock come from FAO 67. There you have it; now you know where it’s caught!

The map included on our Blog shows the breakdown of the FAO fishing areas of the world.

+ “Rust”, “Dark Spot” Discoloration on Interior of Seafood Cans

Discoloration on interior of steel food containers - looks like “rust” once the can is opened and the interior is exposed to oxygen. As long as the can is sealed, there is no presence of oxygen; only once the interior is exposed to oxygen does it become “rust”. The discoloration actually starts as “black sulfide, or iron sulfide”, and though a bit unsightly, is a harmless deposit that often forms in the headspace of canned foods, and may be present more often in canned fish and seafood products. This discoloration is due to organic sulfur, naturally occurring in seafood organisms, such as clams, interacting with tiny particulates of available iron, present in all steel food containers. Industry and government regulatory agencies recognize this as a “cosmetic defect” and not harmful to the contents nor does it pose any threat to human consumption of the contents. So it may look like “rust” because of the interaction of iron particles, but only transforms to the “rusty” appearance once the can is opened and the nterior is exposed to oxygen. The discoloration is often perpetuated by the opening of the can which tends to scrape the can lining, exposing the steel to the liquid in the contents and oxygen. Again, the FDA has stated this is harmless and does not render the food inedible. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us at or 207-259-3341.

+ California Propositions 65 Warnings on Food Labels

Bar Harbor® Foods will comply with “California Proposition 65” requirements for warnings on some of our seafood products.

Under California Proposition 65, lead and cadmium, found in many seafood organisms, are listed as chemicals known to cancer, cause birth defects and/or other reproductive harm in the state of California. Certain bivalves and shellfish products have been tested in California and found to contain amounts of these chemicals above the approved California Proposition 65 limits, which sets limits greater than the currently approved FDA guidelines.

Natural hard-wood smoking, which is the method with which we prepare our Smoked Herring and Smoked Sardine products, is also listed as known to cancer, cause birth defects and/or other reproductive harm in the state of California, which sets limits greater than the currently approved FDA guidelines.

+ How to Open our Ring-pull Cans of Fish

How To Open A Ring-Pull Can

Place the can on a flat surface and hold firmly with one hand. Use caution in keeping your stabilizing hand away from all sharp edges while opening.

Using the thumb of your other hand, lift the ring and push it all the way forward until the ring is stopped by the rim of the can and the seal is broken. Try to keep the ring facing straight forward for best results.

Put your index finger through the ring and place your thumb on top of the lid. While pulling on the ring, press down on the top of the lid with your thumb creating a rolling motion as the lid pulls away from the can. To break the last portion of the seal, gently rock the lid from side to side until it breaks free.

Should the ring-pull break off, use a spoon to press into the end area and break the seal, then using a paper towel or cloth to cover the metal edge and prevent injury, gently pull back and remove the lid.

ring pull Open a ring pull can

+ Bar Harbor® Takes Sustainability to Heart! Please look for the MSC® Blue Fish!

Bar Harbor® Foods believes in the preservation and sustainability of oceans and fisheries worldwide. We only use wild-caught, sustainably harvested fish and seafood in our products.

The following Bar Harbor® Products are MSC® Certified Sustainable:

Bar Harbor® Chopped Sea Clams (MSC-C-50492)

Bar Harbor® Minced Sea Clams (MSC-C-50492)

Bar Harbor® New England Clam Chowder (MSC-C-55796)

Bar Harbor® Rhode Island Clam Chowder (MSC-C-55796)

Bar Harbor® Zuppa-Mediterranean Clam Soup (MSC-C-55796)

Bar Harbor® Clam & Corn Chowder (MSC-C-50492)

Bar Harbor® Fish Chowder (MSC-C-50492)

Bar Harbor® Salmon Chowder (MSC-C-50492)

Bar Harbor® Bisque Bisque (MSC-C-50492)

Bar Harbor® Red Clam Sauce (MSC-C-50492)

Bar Harbor® White Clam Sauce (MSC-C-50492)

All Bar Harbor® Herring and Sardines (MSC-C-54278)

+ Creating Delicious Bar Harbor® Products for Everyone’s Taste!

At Bar Harbor® Foods, taste is paramount! We understand the need for high-quality ingredients and the most stringent safety protocols to produce the safest food products but, if in the end, it does not taste good our work is futile.

In this effort to produce delicious, high-quality seafood products we must take into consideration the multitude of palates, both locally, regionally and internationally.

For this reason, we make Bar Harbor® products with a simple list of all natural ingredients. We include no artificial colors or flavor enhancers, no artificial preservatives or chemicals, and the least amount of sodium in our attempt to provide the best possible taste profile for each recipe.

We are aware our best efforts will not please every palate and so we suggest, in our preparation guidelines on the labels, that you season and garnish to your preferred taste. You can always add a bit more of something, but you can't take out what's already in! We feel this approach provides you the best opportunity to tailor our products to your preferred taste!

We love to hear from you; what you like about our products, how you use them, and any suggestions you might have to improve them.

Thank you for supporting Bar Harbor® Foods!

+ Bar Harbor® Herrings and Sardines: Your Natural Source of MSC® Certified Omega-3!

North Atlantic Herring and Sardines, species Clupea harengus, contain some of the highest Omega-3 of all fish species; second only to Salmon! It is estimated that the combined amount of Omega-3 (from EPA and DHA) in Bar Harbor® Herring and Sardines is approximately 600mg per ounce. That means that each 6.7oz can of Bar Harbor® Herring Fillets contains approximately 4,020mg of Omega-3!

Atlantic Herring and Sardines are some of the most plentiful fish on the planet and as the fishery has been MSC® Certified sustainable, this species, Clupea Harengus, is not at risk for being over-fished. In summary, Bar Harbor® Herring and Sardines are protein and nutrient rich, sustainable fish caught right in our backyard from the cold, clear waters of the Gulf of Maine.

Additionally, Atlantic Herring and Sardines, caught in the Gulf of Maine, Northern Atlantic, contain the lowest levels of mercury as opposed to other species like tuna, bluefish, and grouper, which can contain high levels of mercury and limit your safe consumption of fish.

We hope Bar Harbor® Herring and Sardines are a regular addition to your healthy food choices! Please respect our oceans and choose MSC® #TheBlueFish!

+ Bar Harbor® Foods uses 100% Recyclable Cans with BPAni Inner Coatings!

Bar Harbor® Foods uses 100% recyclable steel containers with BPAni coatings to protect the food contents from interacting adversely with the metal container. Fish, seafood and high-acid products, like tomato-based products, are required by the FDA to be canned in lined containers.

BPAni (ni = non-intent) is the accurate industry term for linings made without the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA).

In addition, our can labels are made from recycled paper stock and printed with vegetable inks. As our steel containers are 100% recyclable, we are happy that they can be infinitely repurposed and reused.

Please respect our planet and recycle!

Thank you!

+ Bar Harbor® Products Are Fully Cooked!

All Bar Harbor® canned and bottled products are fully cooked and need only to be gently heated, if desired, before eating. They can be stored, unopened, in your pantry, and are guaranteed for quality for no less than two years from the production date, or the Best By date, which is listed on the lid of each can.

Once opened it is suggested the products be used within 4-5 days and leftover contents be kept refrigerated in a glass or plastic container during that time. Our Seafood Stocks and Juices can be preserved for later use by freezing any remaining product in an ice tray. Toss the saved, frozen cubes into your next soup or chowder!

Bar Harbor® Condensed products have complete preparation suggestions on the labels and are best blended with your choice of milk or cream product and gently heated.

Our new Ready To Serve products; including Rhode Island Clam Chowder, Zuppa-Mediterranean Clam Soup, and New England Clam Chowder, also have EZ-open lids, making them simple to Heat & Eat, with no additional ingredients required.

Our Bisques, Sauces, Cooking Stocks and Seafood Juices (Clam Juice and Lobster Juice) are ready to be gently heated and/or blended into your favorite recipes.

Bar Harbor® Seafood Meats; Whole Maine Lobster, Whole Maine Cherrystone Clams, MSC® Chopped Sea Clams, MSC® Minced Sea Clams, and Whole Maine Mussels, can be consumed directly from the can or added to and gently heated at the end of your recipe preparation, thus preserving their tenderness and delicious flavor.

Please check our Recipe Page ( for more delicious ways to use Bar Harbor® products as ingredients in your favorite, or soon to be favorite recipes!

+ Storing unused Bar Harbor® Clam Juice & Stocks

We've learned that some customers do not always completely use our 8 oz. (1 cup) bottle of Bar Harbor® Premium Clam Juice for their recipes and because it is such a premium product, they understandably don't want to throw it away. We recommend storing the unused portion in a sealed glass or plastic container in the refigerator for up to 5 days.

To store for longer periods of time simply pour the leftover Bar Harbor® Clam Juice into an ice tray, freeze and pop the frozen cubes into a freezer bag to keep indefinitely. The next time you need to season your favorite recipe, simply remove as many cubes as needed.

We also love Bar Harbor® Clam Juice "cubes"added to a Bloody Mary! Instead of watering down your cocktail, you’ll be flavoring it with the savory taste of the sea!

Keep several bottles of Bar Harbor® Premium Clam Juice on hand so you never run out!

+ Glass-like Crystals Seen in Canned Fish and Seafood?

What are the glass-like crystals sometimes present in canned fish and seafood?

On occasion small crystals resembling pieces of broken glass may be found in canned fish and seafood products. They are colourless, transparent and tasteless. The size varies; sometimes they are so small as to impart only slight “grittiness” to the product, whereas sometimes several crystals up to 0.25" (6 mm) long may be found.

Struvite Crystals, commonly mistaken for pieces of broken glass, are actually naturally occurring particles of magnesium ammonium phosphate. They are colourless, transparent and tasteless.

These crystals will dissolve in vinegar, heated on the stovetop. This proves the crystals are not glass.

These crystals are harmless; in fact, the chemical substances in the crystals are necessary in one form or another for normal health. The crystals have about the same hardness as a crystal of ordinary salt; hence they will not injure the enamel of healthy teeth. They are practically insoluble in the saliva of the mouth, but should they be swallowed, no harm will result as they dissolve in the digestive juices of the stomach.

The separate chemical substances capable of uniting to form crystals of magnesium ammonium phosphate are always present in the bodies of fishes, animals, and man, but it is only under certain conditions that these substances unite to form crystals. Crystals of magnesium ammonium phosphate are found as the naturally occurring mineral “struvite”, and the same substance has also been found in the healthy human body in the tartar film on teeth and elsewhere.

Their crystalline structure renders them sufficiently friable to be readily crushed between the fingernail and a hard surface without scratching the fingernail. They will not actually scratch the surface of an aluminum cooking utensil or copper coin, although they may make a mark on the oxidized surface layer of the metal. Polishing the mark with a cloth will disclose that no actual scratching of the metal has taken place, whereas glass easily scratches these two metals. A convincing test is to place a suspected crystal in a teaspoon, then add  vinegar, and heat by means of a match, candle, or cigarette lighter until the acid is hot. The crystals will dissolve, whereas a fragment of glass will not dissolve.

So there you have it; your science lesson for the day and no need for alarm should you rarely encounter such an object while enjoying healthy Bar Harbor® Herring and Sardines!

+ Is it a Chowder or Bisque?

Chowder is traditionally a hearty soup, usually made with potatoes and larger pieces of meat or seafood. It’s origins lead back to Newfoundland and it appears the word “chowder” is a corruption of the French chaudier (which means “cauldron”). It is believed Breton fishermen brought it to Newfoundland and from there the name spread to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and further south into New England.

Bisque, on the other hand, is also of French origin, and, was originally prepared from the strained broth of boiled crustaceans; namely, lobster, langustine, crab, shrimp or crayfish. It rarely contains pieces of meat or seafood, though we add minced seafood to our lobster and crab bisques for additional flavor. Cream is added to give it additional nutrition and to produce its silky texture. And of course, a dash of Sherry gives any bisque the perfect finish!

+ NO MSG! Nothing Artificial. Period.

Bar Harbor® products contain NO artificial preservatives, NO artificial flavorings, NO artificial color enhancers, NO trans fat, and NO MSG.

+ How to Read the Production Date and Best By Date

The Best By Date for Bar Harbor® products is located on the product lid. It is in a Month/Year format.

Example: 03/2019

The production date is in Julian Calendar code

Example: G0468

"G" is an internal code for the product, in this case, Clam Chowder.

The first three numbers "046" stands for the Julian Calendar numerical day of the year, the 46th day. (divide by 30 and you have the month – February).

The last number stands for the year of production, 2018.

This product was produced in early February, 2018.

The Best By Date is merely a date for which the can manufacturer guarantees the quality of the contents. Canned food, however, if the container is not damaged and is stored in moderate temperatures; not too hot and not allowed to freeze, is generally safe for consumption past the Best By date.


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Bar Harbor Foods ·1112 Cutler Road, Whiting, Maine 04691 USA·207-259-3341