National | Mussels

Please cook mussels before eating - NZ Food Safety

Kūtai (green-lipped mussels) - Photo / Flickr

Recent food poisoning cases from mussels grown in the Coromandel area have prompted NZ Food Safety to issue a warning – please cook mussels before eating them.

NZ Food Safety director of food regulation Paul Dansted said people got sick when they ate raw mussels, or they did not cook them thoroughly

"Cooking kills the marine microorganism Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which occurs naturally throughout the world. Not all strains of this microorganism cause illness in humans," Paul Dansted says.

Symptoms from contracting this bug through eating kūtai (mussels) include stomach cramps and watery diarrhoea and sometimes nausea, vomiting and fever.

Anyone who has eaten raw mussels and now feels unwell is encouraged to contact a doctor.

Paul Dansted says that until they have more information on this strain of Vibrio parahaemolyticus people should take care when handling raw mussels.

Mussels lovers are advised accordingly:

  • Don't eat raw or undercooked mussels or other shellfish. Cook them thoroughly before eating.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw shellfish.
  • Avoid contaminating cooked shellfish with raw shellfish and its juices.

Mussels bought in plastic pottles are free from this bug. All food poisoning issues occurred in mussels in their shells.

For more information, the Ministry for Primary Industries has prepared a document which can be viewed here.