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CDPH Lifts Lobster Health Advisory in Portions of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties

Date: January 03, 2018
Number: 18-001
Contact: Corey Egel | 916.440.7259 CDPHpress@cdph.ca.gov 

SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is lifting the health advisory for lobsters caught in waters on the south side of Santa Cruz Island in Santa Barbara County, and the north side of Anacapa Island in Ventura County. CDPH lifted this advisory today due to recent tests showing that domoic acid has declined to low or undetectable levels in lobsters caught in the area, indicating that they are safe to consume. 

This partial lifting comes after the October 24th advisory warning consumers not to eat the viscera of lobsters caught in the impacted areas. The advisory remains in effect for lobsters caught in state waters south of Anacapa Island and north of Santa Cruz Island.   

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 lobster's viscera. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than the meat. When whole lobsters are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole lobsters 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 lobsters neither decreases nor destroys the toxin in the viscera or body meat. Consumers are advised to 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 will continue to coordinate its efforts with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the fishing community to collect and test lobster samples from the impacted area until domoic acid levels have dissipated. 

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 Domoic Acid webpage.

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