Are dead clams safe to eat?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Are dead clams safe to eat?”. We will discuss the risks of eating dead clams. We will also look at the safest ways to store and handle clams.

Are dead clams safe to eat?

No, it is not safe to eat dead clams. Clams are extremely perishable, and you must eat them as soon as possible once they have died. Clams must always be killed either during or just before the cooking procedure. They can open (they are typically filter feeders and open to feed and breathe), but should close if tapped, suggesting that they are still living.

What are the different types of clams?

Both hard-shell and soft-shell clams are available in the market. Clams are bivalve shellfish, which means they have two shells connected by a hinge. Littlenecks are much less than two inches wide, and their somewhat larger cousins, cherrystones, are examples of hard-shell clams with thick, hard shells.

Vitamin B12 levels in clams are quite high.  They’re high in minerals including iron,  potassium, zinc, and calcium, and are an excellent source of protein and vitamin C.

What are the risks of eating dead clams?

If you eat dead clams, you can get a lot more than you paid for. Clams infected with hepatitis A or norovirus contracted the disease after consuming raw sewage. Toxins begin to develop within dead clams as they die, and those poisons can be transmitted to you even if you boil and consume them.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a species of bacterium commonly found in raw seafood. This bacterium, once absorbed by the shellfish, continues to proliferate even after the clams are chilled while being prepared.

The only method to destroy Vibrio is to boil the fish completely. When you consume raw or undercooked sick seafood, you inhale germs with every mouthful.

How can you tell if clams are bad?

If you’re not sure if clams are safe to eat, look for the following signs.

  • Each claim should be inspected and any that are opened or have fractured shells should be placed away.
  • Tap the open-shelled clams, and discard those that don’t close right away. Smooth clams do not entirely shut their shells.
  • Remove all clams with damaged shells and dead clams are safe to eat.
  • Your clams should smell clean and fresh, with no fishiness or ammonia.

How to store raw clams?

Clams must be kept alive until cooked, therefore wrap them in netting or perforated sacks to prevent suffocation.

Because clams need to breathe to continue living, keep them in a thin layer in the fridge (40°F), covered with a moist towel, and utilize them as quickly as possible within two days. 

Clams should never be wrapped or sealed in cellophane. Put them in a strainer set over a small bowl, cover with a moist cloth, and keep in the refrigerator’s coldest section. All clams that die during the cooking process should be thrown.

How to cook clams?

Clams are delicate and juicy, with a pleasant briny flavor. They’re simple to prepare by boiling, steaming, sautéing, or grilling and taste great in and out of the shells. Soft-shell clams are not served fresh on the half-shell, whereas hard-shell clams are.

Clean the clams

Scrub hard-shell clams with a stiff-bristled brush before cooking. Allow them to soak for 30 – 60 minutes in a big basin or container of salted water to remove any remaining sand, then wash again.

Cook thoroughly

Use small pans and don’t overcrowd them while cooking or steaming clams since the clams in the center may not be fully cooked.

After the shells have opened, boil the clams for 3 – 5 minutes. Steam shellfish for 4 – 9 minutes in a saucepan of boiling water.

Safety tips for handling claims

  • Allow no raw meat or fluids to come into contact with ready-to-eat items in the fridge or during preparation. 
  • Cooked items should not be placed on the same tray as raw fish. 
  • Before using utensils that have come into contact with raw seafood, wash them thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Clean the countertops, cutting boards, and any other surfaces that raw fish has come into contact with.

How to select the best clams?

Make sure you purchase at a respected fishmonger or a high-volume seafood section. Farm-raised clams are normally accessible all year, however, harvesting is periodically prohibited in particular locations owing to contamination.

All clams ought to have closed shells and an ocean-fresh scent. If any open-shelled clams don’t close after a tap, discard them (soft-shelled clams usually stay partly open due to their long neck, which prevents them from closing entirely).

Other FAQs about Clams that you may be interested in.

Are clams safe to eat while pregnant?

Can you freeze fresh clams?


In this brief guide, we answered the question, “Are dead clams safe to eat?”. We discussed the risks of eating dead clams. We also looked at the safest ways to store and handle clams.


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