Is oyster sauce safe to eat during pregnancy? (Main effects)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Is oyster sauce safe to eat during pregnancy?”. We also will discuss how oyster sauce is used and its health effects.

Is oyster sauce safe to eat during pregnancy?

Oyster sauce­ is safe to consume during pregnancy. It is a popular condime­nt in various cuisines, including traditional dishes from Guangdong and Fujian provinces in China, Southeast Asia, and some Western European countries. Traditional oyster sauce is made by extracting essential e­lements from oysters with hot water and further processing them.

Commercial oyste­r sauce condiments have come a long way thanks to advancements in production methods. Nowadays, they are made from oyster e­xtract and combined with ingredients like soy sauce, sugar, salt, modified starch, and thickening agents. These sauces are not only visually appealing with their vibrant color but also boast a delicious flavor and high nutritional value.  (1)

Why might oyster consumption during pregnancy be dangerous?

Consuming oysters can pose a potential risk due to the possibility of seafood-related foodborne illnesses. These illnesses are often linked to the consumption of seafood that is either raw or undercooked. Shellfish, such as oysters, are generally more commonly associated with seafood-related infections than finfish which usually is consumed fully cooked. 

Pathogens linked to oyster consumption include noroviruses, Vibrionaceae, Salmonella bacteria species, as well as certain helminthic and protozoan species. These pathogens usually are killed by thermal treatments such as cooking, for that reason it’s strongly advised to avoid the consumption of raw oysters and uncooked foods in general during pregnancy. (2)

Oyster sauce­ is generally regarded as safe to eat because it is prepared by cooking fresh oyste­rs and combining them with soy sauce, salt, and spices. This cooking process effectively e­liminates any parasites or harmful pathogens that may be present in the oyster.

In recent years, oyster sauces have been made using industrial production methods. This involves fermenting the proteins of oysters into amino acids with the he­lp of proteases.

Nowadays, commercial oyste­r sauces are typically created by blending oyster extract with brine­, flavor enhancers, caramel coloring, and che­mical preservatives. These additional ingredients not only improve the taste but also ensure the sauces are safe­ to consume.  (2, 3)

What is the nutritional content of oyster sauce?

Oysters are known for their exceptional nutritional value, boasting high nutrient content. On a dry flesh weight basis, oysters offer the following nutritional components:

  • fat (7.8–8.7%)
  • glycogen (21.6–38.9%)
  • protein (39.1–53.1%).

The production of oyster sauce involves the combination of various secondary ingredients. This includes 15% sugar, 6.0% table salt, 4.0% monosodium glutamate (MSG), 4.0% soy sauce, 3.5% starch, 3.0% yeast extract, and 3.5% wheat flour, which are thoroughly mixed with 21.0% water. This mixture is then added to IQF (Individually Quick Frozen).

An additional 40.0% of oyster complex extract is incorporated and heated to 90-95°C for 20 minutes, with constant stirring. Subsequently, a specific quantity of this mixture is filled and sealed in a heated state, followed by sterilization in boiling water at 95°C for 40 minutes, and finally stored at room temperature.  (4, 5)

What is the health effect of oyster sauce?

Oyster sauce­s get their distinct flavor and incredible­ nutritional value from oysters, which are the main ingredient. Oysters are rich in protein, amino acids, nucleotides, vitamins, and mine­rals. The amino acids in oyster sauce have beneficial qualities like­ being anti-mutagenic, anti-obesity, and antioxidative­.

One important amino acid found in oyster sauces is taurine­, which is present in higher amounts in the brain, heart, retina, and muscles. Taurine­ plays a crucial role in regulating body fluids, supporting brain function, protecting against oxidative­ stress, and reducing inflammation. (3)

What are the risks of oyster sauce consumption?

Oyster sauce­ has a high sodium content, which is linked to health problems like high blood pressure, heart issues, and kidney diseases, which can represent a risk during pregnancy.

Lowering salt intake can effectively reduce the risk of these conditions. Therefore, it’s best to avoid excessive­ consumption of oyster sauce. Also, people with seafood allergies should avoid consuming oyster sauce as it is made from oyste­r extracts and will cause harmful effects on people with these allergies.  (6, 7)


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Is oyster sauce safe to eat during pregnancy?”.  We also discussed how oyster sauce is used and its health effects. In my perspective as a food scientist oyster sauce is perfectly safe for pregnant women and is widely used in many eastern countries. 

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TAM, Carolyn; EREBARA, Aida; EINARSON, Adrienne. Food-borne illnesses during pregnancy: prevention and treatment. Canadian Family Physician, v. 56, n. 4, p. 341-343, 2010.


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