Is Eating Shellfish During Pregnancy Bad for You?

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Shellfish should be safe to consume during pregnancy, but only when they are completely cooked through. With the traditional uncooked or half-cooked shellfish dishes, you are running a risk for food poisoning.

Pregnancy is a time of many changes in your body, and needless to say, this includes food requirements and habits. If you are not careful about what you eat and what you don’t, you are risking health issues that could range from having an upset stomach to food poisoning. Besides, it is possible that you are having aversions to something that you generally love eating: this is a natural part of being pregnant. Therefore, you needn’t worry about this, and you just have to listen to what your body wants.

Some kinds of food, especially non-vegetarian foods are not all safe for pregnant women. When it comes to sea food, you must be extra careful about what you eat. Some fish are really helpful at this time while some others can cause serious discomfort to you. So where do shellfish stand in this? Let’s find out.

Shellfish During Pregnancy: Things You Need to Know

Shellfish During Pregnancy

Shellfish is a seafood source from exoskeleton-bearing aquatic animals used as food, including various species of mollusks, crustaceans, and echinoderms. They are pretty flavourful and sometimes consumed raw of half-cooked to preserve their natural juices and delicate aroma. Shellfish include following:

  • Oysters
  • Mussels
  • Scallops
  • Clams
  • Winkles Prawns
  • Shrimps
  • Crabs
  • Crayfish
  • Lobster

Shellfish should be fresh and completely cooked

Shellfish should be safe to consume even if you are pregnant, but only when they are completely cooked through. With the traditional uncooked or half-cooked shellfish dishes, you are running a risk for food poisoning.

Besides, shellfish are eaten when they are freshly caught and prepared, so unless you are eating from certified professionals, you could be potentially at risk to poisoning, since it is quite likely that shellfish could be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and toxins. Some of these can get removed if the shellfish is completely cooked (although we wouldn’t recommend eating shellfish that could be contaminated, at all), but if it is half cooked or raw, you could definitely come down with a bad case of poisoning or infection.

Therefore, you should always make sure that you eat only shellfish that is completely cooked through. It is important to note that if toxins are present in the shellfish (i.e., if the shellfish are poisonous like some mushrooms are), they will still be toxic to you even after you cook them. Cooking only kills bacteria or germs, and does very little to remove poisons and toxins. Therefore, do not consume shellfish from non-trusted sources.

If you are pregnant, always talk to the authorities before consuming shellfish (or any seafood, for that matter) that come from public waters. Fisheries have their products checked and get approved only when they are guaranteed 100% safe for consumption, so if you really want to eat shellfish, you should get them from fisheries or sellers that source their products. Apart from that, just remember to consume shellfish only if they are completely cooked through, when you are pregnant.

Things to remember while cooking sea-food

This actually applies not only to shellfish but also to all seafood products. Here are some pointers to keep in mind while cooking sea-food when you are pregnant:

  • If you’re cooking whole fish or fillets, check if they’re cooked through by slipping the point of a sharp knife into the flesh and pulling it aside. The flesh should be opaque, with flakes beginning to separate. If your fish is transparent with a jelly-like consistency, then it’s underdone.
  • When you’ve taken the fish out of the oven, or turned the heat off the hob, let it stand for three minutes to four minutes, to finish cooking. The heat from the oven actually cooks the meat for a bit longer after it is taken out of the oven. That is when the fish is done.
  • Prawns and lobster turn red when cooked, and the flesh becomes pearly-opaque. Scallops appear milky-white or opaque and firm.
  • For clams, mussels, and oysters, watch for the point at which their shells open, which indicates that they’re done. Any clams, mussels and oysters that remain closed are undercooked. Do not consume them.
  • When microwaving seafood, check several spots to ensure that it’s cooked properly throughout.
  • You could use a food thermometer to check that your seafood has reached a temperature of at least 63 degrees C. Then you’ll know for sure that it’s cooked and ready to eat.

These are some rules to follow while consuming shellfish and seafood in general, especially while you are pregnant. It is also likely that you may develop aversions to certain kinds of seafood, so just be careful with it. Better be safe than sorry.

Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!
References:

https://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/can-I-eat-shellfish-during-pregnancy.aspx?CategoryID=54&SubCategoryID=216

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