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Is it Safe to Eat Crab Meat if You are Pregnant?

Seafood is a staple in many cuisines around the world and is an excellent source of nutrients such as proteins, vitamins and essential fatty acids [1]. Crab, in particular, is an incredibly versatile dish and can be cooked in a variety of ways.

While pregnant women are generally advised to avoid seafood, there are several types of seafood that are perfectly safe for them and their baby. In fact, doctors recommend certain specific types of seafood for pregnant women as the nutrients they contain will aid in brain and eye development of their child [2].

Crab falls under the category of foods that are perfectly safe for pregnant women – but there are some rules that must be followed to ensure the safety of both themselves and their baby.

In this article, we’ll go over how to appropriately prepare and consume crab so both you and your baby can derive maximal benefits from this delicious, nutritious food.

crab dinner

1. Avoid raw or undercooked crabmeat

While some believe that consuming fresh crabmeat raw is perfectly fine, research states the opposite. Raw or undercooked crabmeat contains parasites and bacteria such that can cause harm to both you and your baby, especially as pregnant women tend to have compromised immune systems and are more susceptible to contracting diseases.

Additionally, these pathogens can cause your child to have birth defects or even induce a miscarriage. Some of the most common illnesses caused by eating raw crabmeat include toxoplasmosis and salmonella [3].

The high heat crabmeat is exposed to during the cooking process will ensure that these pathogens are killed so that the meat is safe for you to consume. It’s best to use a cooking thermometer to ensure your food is being cooked at the right temperatures and eat it while it’s still hot!

2. Avoid eating crabmeat at restaurants

While reputable restaurants will certainly cook crab thoroughly, there is a high chance that it will be prepared near to or on the same surface as raw fish. This increases the likelihood of pathogens being transferred onto your food.

Even when you cook crab at home, ensure you do not prepare it near to or on the same surface as raw fish or meat to reduce the risk of parasites latching onto your food. You should also take care to sanitize any surfaces that have been exposed to raw fish or meat and wash your hands thoroughly after cooking [4].

3. Skip refrigerated crabmeat

Refrigerated and/or smoked crabmeat is entirely off-limits for pregnant women as they are likely to contain pathogens that could affect the baby’s development. Stay away from any crabmeat marked “nova-style”, “lox”, “kippered”, “smoked”, or “jerky” [5].

Imitation crab (which is essentially fish) might be safe to eat, however it is best to consult your doctor.

To summarize, crab is perfectly safe for pregnant women to eat and is chock-full of nutrients that will benefit both the mother and child. However, to protect both your and your baby’s safety, be sure to eat crabmeat that has been properly sourced and prepared.


1. Bogard, J. R., Farmery, A. K., Baird, D. L., Hendrie, G. A., & Zhou, S. (2019). Linking Production and Consumption: The Role for Fish and Seafood in a Healthy and Sustainable Australian Diet. Nutrients11(8), 1766.

2. Taylor, C. M., Emmett, P. M., Emond, A. M., & Golding, J. (2018). A review of guidance on fish consumption in pregnancy: is it fit for purpose?. Public health nutrition21(11), 2149–2159.

3. Chlebicz, A., & Śliżewska, K. (2018). Campylobacteriosis, Salmonellosis, Yersiniosis, and Listeriosis as Zoonotic Foodborne Diseases: A Review. International journal of environmental research and public health15(5), 863.

4. Byrd-Bredbenner, C., Berning, J., Martin-Biggers, J., & Quick, V. (2013). Food safety in home kitchens: a synthesis of the literature. International journal of environmental research and public health10(9), 4060–4085.

5. Mackey, B. M., Roberts, T. A., Mansfield, J., & Farkas, G. (1980). Growth of Salmonella on chilled meat. The Journal of hygiene85(1), 115–124.