Can You Eat Raw Mussels? Be Careful; You Could Be Sick!

Can you eat raw mussels? It is possible to eat raw mussels, but there is a chance that raw mussels could contain bacteria that can result in food-borne illnesses that could cause you to become sick. If you’re thinking of eating raw mussels, there are a few steps you should take. It is suggested to cook mussels before eating.

Mussels are a kind of shellfish. They are different types of mussels and ways to eat mussels and are usually prepared in sauces or with some spices, and certain people prefer eating mussels raw.

There’s a bit of an issue with eating raw mussels that are not cooked.

Continue reading to learn more about eating raw mussels and the dangers involved, and the best method for you to enjoy mussels!

Is It Safe To Eat Raw Mussels?

If the raw shellfish are safe for consumption and if they are safe to eat is a hotly debated issue.

There are instances where eating raw mussels could be acceptable, however there is a significant risk that the mussels could have unhealthy bacteria which could cause you to get very sick.

Mussels by themselves won’t cause illnessbut it’s the bacteria that they could build up in the ocean that poses the greatest threat.

These pathogens and bacteria may be eliminated through the cooking process, however eating raw mussels implies that you’ll be inhaling the bacteria that might be present on the shell.

If the mussels you’re eating raw aren’t contaminated by these harmful pathogens or bacteria, they are safe to eat. However, it may be difficult to determine if the mussels have been contaminated or not this is what causes the problem.

The most secure option is to not eat raw mussels to decrease the chance of eating mussels that are contaminated with harmful bacteria cook the mussels to kill any bacteria that may be present.

Eating mussels with a fork. Credit: Farhad Ibrahimzade
Eating mussels with a fork. Credit: Farhad Ibrahimzade

Why You Shouldn’t Eat Raw Mussels

The most important reason that you shouldn’t eat raw mussels is because they could contain pathogens and bacteria that can cause food poisoning that can be fatal.

The primary bacteria that are found in mussels can cause illnesses like Vibrio parahaemolyticus Coli and salmonella. Mussels could contain one or more of them, but any of them can cause illness.

All of these are signs warning signs the food poisoning While you may be able to treat yourself at home, certain cases may be more serious as well, those susceptible can fall sick from this.

Consuming raw mussels that contain the bacteria can cause these symptoms:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

What Do Raw Mussels Taste Like?

Raw mussels have a distinct taste, but it’s pretty similar to the taste of cooked mussels.

Fresh raw mussels possess an ocean-salty taste and are accompanied by seafood and seaweed. They’re sweet and salty all at the same time. They don’t have too much of a taste.

If you are eating fresh mussels in their raw form it is possible to eat them “as is” or they could be flavored with lime juice or hot sauce for some flavor and to enhance the flavor inherent in the mussel.

Read more about what is best to serve with your mussels.

Who Should Avoid Eating Raw Mussels?

Since mussels that are raw have the highest risk of being infected with pathogens and bacteria, and could cause sickness There are some who are more susceptible of getting sick from mussels than the rest.

If you are pregnant or have a compromised immune system, old and children must all stay clear of the consumption of raw mussels.

The risk of getting unwell is elevated as well as the foodborne illness could have a more negative impact the health of their family members.

However, even adults who are healthy are susceptible to serious illnesses by eating raw mussels thus it’s something not to be taken lightly.

Can You Purchase Raw Mussels In Restaurants?

Consuming raw mussels are not necessarily safe, but there are restaurants that offer raw mussels as a speciality.

Before you think that this means that you can eat mussels in raw form, it’s crucial to remember that many restaurants cook their mussels with an acidic mix prior to serving that can rid the food of some bacteria.

The acid mixture is generally comprised of salt, vinegar spices, and occasionally onions. It not only helps ensure that the shellfish are in good health but also enhances the overall flavor too.

Can You Eat Undercooked Mussels?

Consuming raw mussels is one thing, but you could have cooked the mussels a little and you’re wondering if they’re still safe to eat.

There’s still the risk of getting foodborne illness in the case of eating mussels that are not cooked because mussels must reach an appropriate temperature during cooking so that the bacteria can be eliminated and the mussels to be safe to eat.

Mussels should be cooked to a minimum of 150degF for safety since that is the temperature at which the pathogens and bacteria are likely to be killed off.

Mussels don’t require cooking for excessively long as they’re very small. They require 5 to 7 minutes to cook, so it really isn’t difficult.

In general, it is recommended to be wary of eating mussels that are not cooked properly because they may contain harmful bacteria.

How To Know Which Mussels Are Safe To Eat

It doesn’t matter if you’re eating them fresh or cooked it is important to select the best mussels for you to enjoy.

You can also opt for frozen mussels that already be cleaned and picked by you already, however fresh is always better.

Here are a few suggestions for choosing the most effective mussels.

Look For Closed Shells

The first thing you need to check is whether the shells of mussels are shut or not. The mussels must be alive when you purchase them and a shell that is closed is a sign that mussels are alive.

The shell may appear to be slightly open, however it’s likely to close againYou may not have the time to wait around if you’re shopping, so select only shells which are closed.

The open shells indicate of the fact that your mussels may have passed away or have become unfit for consumption It could also indicate an increase in the growth of bacteria.

Look For Whole Shells

If the mussel appears sealed, it shouldn’t be damaged or chipped. Chips or cracks inside the shell may indicate that the mussel has died or was not properly collected and transported which makes them unfit to eat.

Cracks in shells could be an opening for bacteria to get into the shell, making them a food source disease if ate.

Look For Clean Shells

Another thing to check for on the shells is their cleanliness. After being harvested the mussels must be washed, even if it’s just little.

A dirty shell suggests that they were not taken care of or prepared properly and is recommended to avoid this.

Smell For Any Off Odor

Mussels be characterized by an oceanic, salty smell which is acceptable. It is an excellent sign that they’re fresh. If the smell is strong or a bit rancid, then avoid them.

As they age and start to deteriorate they will exhibit evident off-odor and are simple enough to smell on. Don’t be embarrassed to sniff every single one of the mussels you’re planning to purchase!

Can You Eat Frozen Mussels?

The most well-known method of selling mussels is freezing them, however, even though freezing may aid in killing certain bacteria, it will not be able to kill all of it.

Mussels should be frozen while still alive so that they maintain their highest quality and remain as fresh as possible after freezing.

But, certain brands cook mussels prior to freezing however this isn’t enough to necessarily kill any bacteria present.

Consuming frozen mussels and not cooking them is still a risk of getting foodborne illnesses.

This is due to the fact that freezing does not kill many bacteria, but actually puts the bacteria in the state of hibernation which means that after they have been thawed bacteria are able to multiply.

Therefore eating raw and frozen mussels or even cooked mussels is not without the risk of infection because the bacteria could be present.

It is recommended to cook raw frozen mussels (or partially cooked frozen mussels) thoroughly before eating them..

The mussels should be cooked over high temperatures for a short duration to eliminate any bacteria and will keep the mussels moist and tasty.

How To Clean Mussels

The fishmonger or the store where you purchase the mussels must have cleaned them before you buy them However, you might have to wash the mussels yourself before cooking them.

It is best to clean the mussels when you prepare cooking them — washing them may cause them to die and you’ll would like cooking them in the freshest way is possible.

Cleanse one mussel at a. Begin by rinsing the mussel under running water and then rub the shell to get rid of any debris and dirt.

Some mussels might sport what’s called”beards.” These are the ones that have a “beard,” that resembles an ungainly, small rope. Get rid of this through pulling the beard toward the bottom of the shell. The mussel should fall off, but if it doesn’t then you can cut it off with a small knife.

Repeat this procedure for all the mussels, examining for signs that the shells are shut completely. Make sure you keep the mussels away from the bowl of water during cleaning.

After the mussels have cooked, wash them once more and place them on one side.

How To Cook Mussels

Cooking mussels is simple as they just require cooking for a brief time. The best method for cooking mussels is by steaming them on high temperatures quickly.

Begin the cooking process by locating an sufficient-sized pot with an snugly fitting lid. The mussels ought to fill 1/3 of the pot’s space. the pot.

It is then time to choose the sauce or broth that you’re planning to boil the mussels, whether it’s a wine-based dish or coconut milk and pour it into the pot.

There should be about 1 inch of liquid inside the pot — enough steam to cook the mussels however, not to boil it up. Place the pot on moderate-high temperatures to bring up to boiling.

Once the water is boiling you can add the mussels into the pot and put the lid tightly. Start a timer to 3 minutesand when the timer is over, stir the mussels and put the lid on. Cook in an additional 3 minutes and that should allow them to fully cook them.

Verify that all shells have been opened during the cooking process and throw away any shells that were not opened during the cooking process.

How To Store Fresh Mussels

If you’re thinking of eating raw mussels or plan to cook them, you must be aware of the best way to keep them correctly to ensure they’re in top condition prior to eating.

Properly storing them will assist in reducing the likelihood of the growth of bacterial!

It is best to eat your mussels on the exact day they were purchased since they’ll be fresh and at their in the freshest condition. But, if you can’t eat them all, they can be kept in your refrigerator for up to two days.

If you store the mussels for up to 2 days, you may be required to throw them away when it’s time to cook them, since there are a handful that may have died in the storage therefore it is worth purchasing more.

To keep the mussels, put the mussels in an colander or strainer and set it on top of the top of a dish. This allows the liquid to fall into the bowl at the bottom, and to not drown the mussels.

Don’t place the lid on with wrapper since the mussels remain alive and require air to breathe. Put it in your refrigerator and use the mussels when your two days expire.

Again, wait until you’re ready cooking the mussels to clean them, and look for dead mussels prior to cooking.


Can You Eat Mussels Straight From The Sea?

It is possible to eat mussels straight from the ocean However, it’s not recommended to do it. Mussels that haven’t been properly cleaned may contain bacteria that can cause illness however fresh they may appear.

Should Mussels Float Or Sink?

For checking your mussels ensure that the shell is closed. If the shell appears to be open, close it If it remains closed, the mussel is alive and is safe to eat.
Then, put the mussels into the bowl of water. Should they sink they’re fresh. However, if they flounder, they are dead and must be to be thrown away.


It is possible to eat raw mussels, however it’s not suggested. Raw mussels could contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious food-borne illness.

Even the most fresh of mussels could still be contaminated with harmful pathogens and bacteria, and it’s difficult to know good way to know whether or not they have. This is the reason the risk of contracting a disease is so high.

The most effective way to relish mussels is to choose freshly-cleaned mussels, which are sealed and cook them on high temperature for about 7 minutes.

This will allow enough time to fully cook the mussels and ensure that any bacteria get eliminated, but still enjoy delicious and soft mussels.

With all the wonderful ways to prepare mussels, and the delicious flavors you can mix with them, there’s no reason to risk the danger of eating mussels raw!

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.

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