You've probably long been suspicious of the green muck that appears when you crack open the body of a lobster especially when others see it and say, "Oh, but it's a delicacy."
Now, you've got some backup for your concerns.
The FDA is warning consumers to avoid eating the tomalley (the green stuff) in American lobster, regardless of where the lobster was harvested, because of potential contamination with dangerous levels of the toxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). The tomalley functions as the lobster's liver and pancreas.
While PSP sometimes occurs in clams and other shellfish, high levels of PSP toxins aren't usually found in lobster tomalley, and the agency says this incidence could be due to an ongoing red tide episode in northern New England and eastern Canada. There have been similar warnings against eating the "yellow stuff" found in blue crabs (their tomalley or the "mustard") because of high levels of chemical contaminants.
Symptoms of PSP include tingling and/or numbness of the mouth, face or neck; muscle weakness; headache; and nausea. In extreme cases, when large amounts of the toxin are consumed, these symptoms can lead to respiratory failure and death. Symptoms usually occur within two hours of exposure to the toxin. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention.
The FDA says that even when high levels of PSP toxins are present in lobster tomalley, lobster meat itself is typically unaffected.
For more information on seafood safety, you can go to the FDA's website.
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