Crab is a go! - C. JUHASZ/CDFW WEBSITE
  • C. Juhasz/CDFW website
  • Crab is a go!
If you have a boat and some pots, you can get to cracking shells without worry. The California Department of Public Health has lifted its advisory for Dungeness crab consumption. Recent tests show domoic acid levels have dropped low enough that eating sport-caught crustaceans, if prepared properly, should be safe. Make sure to boil or steam your crab, discard of the water used in preparation and don't eat any viscera.

Commercial crab season is still on hold until Jan. 15.

From the California Department of Public Health:

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has lifted the last remaining health advisory for Dungeness crab caught along the California Coast. CDPH lifted this advisory today due to recent tests showing that the amount of domoic acid has declined to low or undetectable levels in Dungeness crabs caught in the area, indicating that they are safe to consume.

The final health advisory lifted today was for Dungeness crabs caught north of the Klamath River mouth, Del Norte County (41°32.500’ N. lat.) to the Oregon border.

While domoic acid levels may vary, consumers should always follow these best preparation practices to avoid any inadvertent exposure to domoic acid that might be sporadically found in the crab’s viscera. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than the meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole crabs should be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews (for example, cioppino or gumbo), stocks, roux, dressings or dips. Cooking crabs neither decreases nor destroys the toxin in the viscera or body meat.

The best ways to reduce risk are:

· Remove the crab viscera and rinse out the body cavity prior to cooking, or

· Boil or steam whole crabs, instead of frying or broiling, and discard the viscera and cooking liquids.

Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness. These symptoms disappear within several days. In severe cases, the victim may experience trouble breathing, confusion, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.

CDPH is also reminding consumers that advisories continue to be in place regarding certain seafood caught along the California coastline:

Sport-harvested mussels in Sonoma County
Lobsters in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties
Razor Clams from Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

To receive updated information about shellfish poisoning and quarantines, call CDPH’s toll-free “Shellfish Information Line” at (800) 553-4133. For additional information, visit CDPH’s Natural Marine Toxins: PSP and Domoic Acid webpage or CDPH’s Domoic Acid webpage, which includes domoic acid testing results. 

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