Can I eat shellfish during pregnancy?

It depends on whether the shellfish is raw or has been cooked.

Avoid raw shellfish

It’s best not to eat raw shellfish while you're pregnant to reduce the risk of food poisoning, which can be particularly unpleasant during pregnancy. This includes:

  • oysters
  • mussels
  • scallops
  • clams
  • winkles
  • prawns
  • shrimps
  • crabs
  • crayfish

Raw shellfish can be contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses or toxins (poisons), which can make you ill.

Cooked shellfish

It’s safe to eat shellfish during pregnancy, as long as it’s been thoroughly cooked. Any bacteria or viruses are usually killed by thorough cooking. However, if toxins are present, they won't be completely removed by cooking.

Commercial shellfish are required by law to be regulated or tested. If you want to take shellfish from any public waters, it is important that you check local notices or with your local authority that it is safe to eat shellfish from that area. See Fish and shellfish for further advice. If you have any concerns, you may prefer not to eat shellfish while you’re pregnant.

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 18/06/2015

Next review due: 17/06/2017