Shellfish such as prawns, mussels, scallops, langoustine, crab, lobster, oysters, clams, cockles and cuttlefish are rich in protein and contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals, as well as omega-3 fats (although not as much as oily fish).
Generally, you can eat as much shellfish as you like, although if you regularly eat fish, you should avoid having brown crabmeat too often as it may contain similar low levels of pollutants to oily fish. There’s no need to limit the amount of white crabmeat you eat though. If you are pregnant you can still eat shellfish providing it’s cooked thoroughly (you should avoid raw shellfish). Babies, young children, elderly people and those who are unwell should also avoid raw or undercooked shellfish as it can contain harmful viruses and bacteria that can cause food poisoning – cooking thoroughly usually kills these. If you buy or cook live shellfish such as mussels, tap them to make sure the outer shell closes – if they are still alive, the shells will close.
Live shellfish shouldn’t be kept in water or airtight containers as they need to breath. Finally, always discard any live shellfish if their shells are cracked or broken or if the shells don’t close when you tap them. Similarly, when you’ve cooked shellfish, only eat those where the shells are open – if any shells remain shut, discard them.
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