While to some of us these shell-dwelling critters might look less than appetizing, mussels are a favorite seafood the world over.
Whether your preference is breadcrumbed and deep-fried or in a rich creamy sauce as the French do it, you might be wondering whether eating mussels while pregnant is such a good idea.
So what’s the deal — can pregnant women eat mussels?
The answer is generally yes, but let’s look at the details and answer some frequently asked questions….
In this article 📝
- Can you eat mussels and clams when pregnant?
- Are mussels safe during pregnancy?
- What shellfish can you eat while pregnant?
- What seafood should you avoid when pregnant?
Can you eat mussels and clams when pregnant?
So, can you eat mussels while pregnant? What about clams?
Yes! Like mussels, clams are a type of mollusk, and both are safe to eat during pregnancy.
Like other types of fish, shellfish, and meat, mussels must be thoroughly cooked to be safe to eat during pregnancy.
Raw mussels can contain bacteria—most commonly, Vibrio and E.Coli— which can cause a nasty bout of food poisoning thanks to your weakened pregnancy immune system.
Can pregnant women eat cooked mussels soup? Yes, that would be a great option, since the mussels will be thoroughly cooked in the broth, which will get rid of any bacteria.
So how do you go about making mussels safe to eat? Keep on reading!
Are mussels safe during pregnancy?
While fresh, thoroughly cooked mussels are generally safe to eat, there are some things to look out for to make sure you minimize any risk of illness.
If you’re asking can I eat mussels when pregnant? It’s best to follow these steps:
Buy fresh mussels from a reputable store or fishmonger rather than picking your own, as you can’t be sure of the water’s contamination level. Fishy-smelling mussels are a definite no.
Avoid buying imported mussels, as it’s harder to find out where exactly they’ve been harvested. Generally, local, farmed, rope-grown mussels are the safest choice, as they are checked for contaminants regularly.
Mussels that are safe to eat will be closed—or if their shell is slightly open, it should close if you gently tap it. Discard any mussels which aren’t closed or have broken or cracked shells.
When preparing mussels, wear gloves and scrub the mussels thoroughly, making sure any surfaces or utensils that come into contact with the raw mussels are washed in hot soapy water.
Cook the mussels thoroughly (think at least five minutes if you’re boiling or steaming them). The mussel shells will open when they cook, so discard any cooked mussels which haven’t opened. A still-closed shell means that the mussel is not safe to eat.
If this all sounds like too much hassle, canned, tinned, or frozen cooked mussels are generally safe to eat as they will have been thoroughly cooked during processing.
If you’re eating out at a restaurant, make sure with your server that the mussels will be cooked through.
What shellfish can you eat while pregnant?
Shellfish come in two types—crustaceans and mollusks—and both are safe for pregnancy as long as they’re fresh and thoroughly cooked.
All types of shellfish are great low-fat sources of protein and many vitamins and healthy compounds, like iron and zinc.
What seafood should you avoid when pregnant?
For the full lowdown on everything to avoid eating while pregnant, you might want to check out our guide.
In general, there are four types of seafood to avoid while pregnant—big fish, raw seafood, seafood from unknown sources, and too much seafood.
Sigh. So many rules, but we promise it’ll all be worth it when your little one makes their safe arrival!
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