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CDPH Lifts Dungeness Crab Health Advisory Near Bodega Bay and Russian River

Date: December 3, 2018
Number: 18-059
Contact: Corey Egel | 916.440.7259 | cdphpress@cdph.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has lifted the health advisory for Dungeness crabs caught in state waters near Bodega Head and Russian River in Sonoma County. CDPH lifted this advisory today due to recent tests showing that domoic acid has declined to low or undetectable levels in Dungeness crabs caught in the area, indicating that they are safe to consume. There have been no reported illnesses associated with this event.

CDPH initially warned consumers on November 1 not to consume the viscera of Dungeness crab in that region.

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 viscera (internal organs, also known as "guts" that may contain fat or "butter") of crabs. 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 to:

• 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.

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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