Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab And Imitation Crab?

Crab meat is delicious, popular and lean, so it’s no surprise that pregnant women are curious about whether they can safely eat this food. When you are pregnant, it can be confusing to know what you can eat and what you cannot. I researched all types of crab, including imitation crab.

Can pregnant women eat crab? All types of crab (including claws and legs) can be eaten by pregnant women if they are freshly cooked. Even imitation crab is safe to eat during pregnancy. Certain crab dishes should be checked for safety before eating during pregnancy.

Crabs are so versatile that they appear in many recipes. There are also many different crab species. This article contains a variety of popular recipes that I researched to ensure you receive the most accurate information about eating crab during pregnancy.

How to Eat Crab Safely During Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, it is best to avoid raw or undercooked crab. Avoid eating raw or undercooked crab if you are pregnant as it can cause foodborne illnesses (source: NHS).

Raw crab is not something that anyone wants to eat (not even pregnant women! You should be on the lookout for undercooked crabs. It is especially true for larger crabs, as the larger the crab the longer it will take to cook. Check the recommended cooking times before attempting any crab recipes.

Here are some tips for choosing and eating crab when you’re pregnant.

  • Check the cooking time of the crab if you did not cook it yourself. If you are eating ‘freshly dressed’ crab or crabmeat on subs, sandwiches or in a crabmeat top, this is a great idea.
  • The cooked crab meat should not be translucent or slimy, but rather opaque and pearly. Fresh crab meat has a slight, sweet scent. If you smell sour, or fishy, it may be bad.
  • Check that the crabs are alive and moving. They should have been properly stored in a tank with a clean environment. Uncooked, dead crabs can spoil quickly.
  • The shelf-stable type of crab meat is usually found in cans, often labelled as a jumbo lump or something similar. It’s not kept in the fridge but on a shelf. It is generally pasteurized, and safe to consume. Once it’s opened, keep it in the refrigerator and consume it within two days.
  • The fresh crab meat is usually in a tub or can that’s always displayed in the refrigerator. It is safe to eat but you should still check the “use by” dates and not exceed them.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab And Imitation Crab?

What is the mercury content of crab?

Crab has a very low mercury content compared to other fish and seafood. The FDA states that crabs (Blue, King and Snow) have an average mercury content of 0.065 ppm, one of the lowest for seafood. (Source: FDA).

Environmental Defense Fund’s ‘Seafood Selector’ also lists several species of crab (king blue, stone snow, Dungeness, southern tanner, and others) as being “low” mercury. Crab is an excellent choice for pregnant women due to its low level of mercury.

How many crabs can pregnant women eat?

The FDA recommends pregnant women consume 8-12oz (three to four servings) per week of a variety of seafood and fish. The FDA recommends that pregnant women eat 8-12oz (3-4 servings) of a variety of seafood and fish per week (source: FDA).

The NHS in the UK lists crab as a recommended type of seafood to eat during pregnancy. However, there is no upper limit. According to US guidelines, pregnant women are allowed to consume up to 12oz of crab each week. However, it is better to eat different types of fish to get a varied nutritional profile.

What is the best way to eat crab if you’re pregnant?

The crab is a complete, lean protein with low calories (around 75 per 3oz/85g) (source: SFGate). It is high in vitamin B12 and calcium.

Crab is one of the “best choices” of seafood to eat during pregnancy, according to the FDA (source: FDA).

Remember that the way you serve crab can make a big difference. It can be a lean and healthy source of protein if it is served freshly steamed with minimal dressings.

You’ll be adding unnecessary fat and calories if you bake it with lots of cheese, mix it with mayo or use a large amount of butter. Use it in salads or wraps with veggies and herbs.

Crabs can contain high levels of sodium or cholesterol depending on their species. If you only eat crab twice a week, this is not a problem. If you are watching your salt/sodium intake or need to monitor your cholesterol, check first before eating any crab.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab And Imitation Crab?

Can pregnant women eat crab legs and claws?

The type of crab meat available to pregnant women is not limited to white or brown meat from the main body.

If you are pregnant, it is safe to eat the crab legs and claws as long as they have been fully prepared (for more information on this topic see above).

Is it safe to eat all species of crab during pregnancy?

I get asked a lot about the different types of crabs and if they are safe to eat during pregnancy. In different parts of the globe, crabs can be eaten depending on where they are available (or what is shipped in).

To avoid any doubt, you can eat all of the crabs below when you are pregnant as long as they’re thoroughly cooked.

  • Brown Crab – Common in Europe, the UK and around the North Sea. Also known as the edible crab
  • Blue Crab, also known as the “Chesapeake Crab”, is found mostly along the East Coast of the USA
  • Dungeness crab is commonly found along the West Coasts of North America
  • King Crab is also known as Red King Crab or Alaskan King Crab, and can be found in cold water such as the North Pacific.
  • Stone Crab – Also known as Florida Stone Crabs, these crabs are famous for their large claws. They can be found in the western part of the North Atlantic.
  • SoftShell Crab is not a species, but a term used to describe crabs with soft shells after they have moulted. These are Blue Crabs in the USA.
  • Snow Crab Also known as Opilio Crab. It is known for its long, large legs that are sold or served on their own.
  • Peekytoe Crab – was formerly known as the Maine Rock Crab or Sand Crab. It is hard to come by but its meat is highly prized.
  • Horseshoe Crab – Not a crab and difficult to find outside Asia. They are still safe and edible if they are cooked.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab And Imitation Crab?

Can pregnant women eat imitation crab?

The imitation crab is safe for pregnant women because it has been fully cooked. It’s also not made from crab!

The imitation crab is made from a fish paste (usually Alaskan Pollock) that’s held together by different ingredients, depending on the recipe. It could be egg, transglutaminase or potato starch. Salt and sugar can be added to the food colouring that gives it a reddish or pinkish colour.

The egg is cooked during the manufacturing process. If there is no allergy, the ingredients in imitation crab are generally safe for pregnant women. You get what you paid for, and the ingredients list will show that imitation crab contains several additives.

Imitation crab does not have the same benefits as authentic, fresh meat of the crab. This is why it is usually cheaper than the real deal. Real crab is richer in vitamins and minerals. The real crab does not contain any added sugars or carbs (source: PubMed).

It’s perfectly safe to eat imitation crab while pregnant. It is cheap, convenient, and safe to eat. If you spend a little more on real crab you will get more vitamins, minerals and a source of lean proteins without any additives.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab And Imitation Crab?

Crab Dishes During Pregnancy and Their Safety

Crab is an ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes. You may want to double-check some of these dishes before eating them if you are pregnant. I have listed the most frequently asked crab recipes below.

  • Crab Rangoon can be made with real crab meat or imitation crab. Crab rangoon can be eaten while pregnant because the crab meat is usually cooked before it is formed into little parcels and fried.
  • Crab Cakes can vary greatly in ingredients. However, the egg is usually used to bind the cakes together. Crab cakes can be eaten during pregnancy as long as the crab is cooked thoroughly (no undercooked crab or runny centre). You can dip them in mayonnaise-based sauces, but make sure they’re made with pasteurized eggs. 
  • Crab Sushi almost always uses imitation crab instead of real crab. Both are safe – real crab or imitation crab sushi as long as they’re cooked through. Raw fish, traditionally used in traditional sushi, is not safe to consume during pregnancy.
  • Crab Paste is usually spreadable and is safe to consume if pasteurized. This is almost always the case. If you find the crab paste in a jar or can, it’s safe to eat if it is pasteurized. It is safe if it’s Shippams. If it is the Asian paste (used in Thai cooking and other similar dishes), it can be used if it has been cooked completely.
  • Crab dip, If it’s the hot version with cheese baked in the oven, it is usually safe because the temperatures reach make it safe for pregnant women to eat. 
  • Crab Pate or Potted Crab should not be consumed during pregnancy as it is more likely to contain listeria (sources: NHS and APA).
  • Crab Salads and Crab Rolls Often contain the same ingredient: crab (sometimes imitation) mixed with other ingredients. As long as it is pasteurized. 
    Check that the salad you are making is a Crab Louie. Also, make sure that any dressings or mayo used are pasteurized.
  • Crab Bisque, Crab Chowder or Crab Bisque It is safe to eat the crab as it is cooked in bisque, chowder or soup. Bisque may contain small amounts of alcohol, such as brandy.
    Check that the cream and milk in chowders or bisques have been pasteurized.
  • Crabs in Fresh Dressing If the crab is fresh, it is safe to consume while pregnant. Crab meat spoils very quickly. Always check the date of when it was prepared, cooked and dressed. Eat as soon as possible after that date.
    The eggs in the crab should be hard-boiled.
  • Deviled Crab is either a crab mixed in with spices or Crab Croquettes deep-fried Spanish style. Both are safe during pregnancy, as they are typically fully cooked and served warm. Check that all ingredients, e.g. It’s also worth checking that the cream or eggs are cooked.
  • Crab Pasta or Crab Bake rarely contains raw crab. It is safe to consume when pregnant. Double-check if the pasta or bake has a creamy sauce. Also, make sure that any cream or milk is pasteurized. Overall, however, pasta and crab bakes are safe to eat.