FDA Warns Consumers to Avoid Eating Lobster Tomalley

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday warned consumers to avoid eating tomalley in American lobster due to potentially dangerous levels of the toxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).

The FDA advisory comes about two weeks after Maine health officials warned consumers to avoid ingesting tomalley, a soft, green substance found in the body cavity of the lobster. It functions as the liver and pancreas.

The FDA emphasized that the advisory applies only to tomalley and that, even when high levels of PSP toxins are present in tomalley, which is uncommon, the lobster meat itself is usually unaffected. Cooking does not eliminate PSP toxins, added the agency.

The FDA attributed the current high levels of PSP toxins to the red tide outbreak in northern New England and eastern Canada. In addition to Maine, health officials in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Canada have issued tomalley advisories.

U.S. and Canadian health officials frequently monitor inshore waters and shellfish beds for PSP toxins and issue closures when they reach a certain level. All crustaceans and mollusks sold in the marketplace are safe to eat, they stress.


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