Can you eat raw mussels?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you eat raw mussels?”. We will discuss risks and health benefits associated with them. 

Yes, you can eat raw mussels, but precautions should be exercised before eating them raw because they can give you food poisoning or other illness. Many restaurants, however, serve them raw because of their delicious taste.

The risks of eating raw mussels are the same as eating oysters and clams. In freshwater and saltwater, mussels act as filters and in the process, they can pick up polluting toxins or various bacteria, which can be harmful to health.

Can raw mussels make you sick?

Yes, raw mussels can make you sick and give you a condition known as Vibriosis. This is an intestinal disease caused by bacteria called vibrio, they are mostly found in saltwater shellfish. Vibriosis is most commonly known as seafood poisoning.

After consuming raw mussels, the symptoms may show after a delay of 24 hours depending on their quality and amount consumed.

The symptoms of mussels poisoning are:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach ache

Thus, mussels should be bought from a reliable source and cooked thoroughly to destroy any bacteria present in them.  

How to buy raw mussels?

To enjoy their salty taste, it is important to buy them fresh. Raw mussels are only safe to eat when they are still alive, otherwise, they can spoil even after proper refrigeration.

Before buying, make sure the shells are tightly closed, so that you know they are alive. Even if they are open, they should close by themselves. This is a sign that they are alive and fresh.

Also, make sure that the shells are not damaged and opened from any side and the shells are clean. Although mussels are muddy and dirty when they are caught, most vendors clean them up.

Inspect them thoroughly and if you see any signs of spoilage, discard them.

What are the health benefits of mussels?

Mussels have excellent nutritional value like any other seafood. They have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for health. They are a good source of many minerals like iron, zinc, and folic acid.

Heart health

Mussels provide important nutrients that keep your blood pressure in check. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for heart health and mussels are rich in them.

Beneficial for red blood cells

Mussels are high in iron and vitamin B12. Consuming just three ounces of mussels can deliver one-third of the daily intake value of Iron. Its deficiency can cause anemia, fatigue, and weakness.

Vitamin B12 is important in the production of red blood cells.

Muscle building

They contain high-quality and essential proteins that are required daily by the body. The protein content of mussels is easy to digest and benefits the body. They can fulfill 40% of the daily protein needs.

Proteins are necessary for the proper functioning of the cells in the body and help in muscle building and vital immune functions.

What is the nutritional profile of mussels?

Mussels are rich in nutrition. 85 grams of mussels contains:

  • Calories: 146
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 6 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Other minerals include:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Calcium

What do mussels taste like?

Mussels are sweet with mostly salty mild ocean flavor. They are tender and soft to chew. The taste is indistinguishable from other seafood like clams or oysters.

You can accentuate the taste by eating raw mussels with a pinch of lemon or sprinkling a few herbs.

When not to eat raw mussels?

As mentioned earlier, raw mussels tend to give you bacterial infection and food poisoning. 

Therefore, they must be avoided by pregnant women or people who have compromised immune systems because they can easily get sick from the bacteria present in the raw mussels.

How to cook mussels?

  1. Mussels are as easy to cook as they are to eat. They can be cooked in a few simple steps:
  2. First, clean mussels’ shells thoroughly and rinse them underwater. It is natural for them to open and close by themselves, tap mussels that are slightly open but if they do not close, throw them away.
  3. Place these washed mussels in a pan of hot water and close the lid of the pan. You can also use wine, beer or any other liquid to steam them.
  4. Cook them for 5-7 minutes and when the steam is coming out of the pan, they are cooked.
  5. Let them rest for a minute and then pour them in a bowl and serve.

Other FAQs about Mussels that you may be interested in.

Can you eat closed mussels?


In this brief guide, we provided an answer to the question “can you eat raw mussels?”. We also discussed risks and health benefits associated with them.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.