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CDPH Lifts Dungeness Crab Health Advisory in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties

December 22, 2017
Number: 17-087
Contact: Corey Egel | 916.440.7259 |

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has lifted the health advisory for Dungeness crab caught in coastal waters north of Fort Bragg and Eureka. CDPH lifted this advisory today due to recent tests showing 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.

This partial lifting comes after the November 3rd advisory warning recreational anglers of the safety concerns. The advisory remains in effect for recreationally caught Dungeness crabs taken from state waters 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. 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 viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than the meat, and people are advised to discard the viscera.

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 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 will continue to coordinate its efforts with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the fishing community to collect and test crab samples from the remaining impacted area until domoic acid levels have dissipated. Please consult CDFW for information about the recreational Dungeness crab season.

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

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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