Are seafood and shellfish safe in pregnancy?

Prawns, mussels, lobster, crab and scallops - read our expert advice on which types of seafood and shellfish are OK to eat when pregnant

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In a nutshell

Shellfish is safe to eat – but only if it’s properly cooked. Raw shellfish and seafood is not safe.

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The expert view

Shellfish, including oysters, mussels, scallops, crab, prawns and lobster, is safe to eat in pregnancy but only if it has been thoroughly cooked, It should not be eaten raw because of the risk of food poisoning.

You need to be careful with crab – this should be limited to no more than two portions a week. This is because the Food Standards Agency’s Committee on Toxicity found it contained levels of toxins, including PCBs and dioxins, that can build up in the body. This is the same advice as for oily fish, which may also contain these toxins.

“Seafood, including prawns and scallops, are low in fat but contain just as much protein as meat or chicken, so they’re a healthy option when you’re having a stir-fry or curry,” explains nutritionist Dr Rana Conway, author of What To Eat When You’re Pregnant.

“However, if you’re at a buffet or salad bar, they’re probably best avoided, unless you’re completely confident they’ve been cooked and stored carefully.”

What do mums on our forum say?

“You can eat shellfish etc as long as it is cooked and lets be honest – who would ever dream of eating raw prawns!!

“Just make sure they’re thoroughly cooked and you’ll be fine! I ate seafood all the way through my pregnancy except mussels which I still can’t stand for some reason!!” – hushpuppy

Read more about eating seafood and fish in pregnancy:

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