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Shellfish Safety Notification: Consumers ​Warned n​ot to Eat Lobsters Caught along Parts of the California Coast

Date: September 22, 2023
Number: SN23-010


Due to the detection of elevated levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers to not eat lobsters caught in specific coastal areas of Los Angeles County. Dangero​us levels of domoic acid have been detected in the body meat and viscera (internal organs) of lobsters. Cooking the lobsters does not decrease or destroy the toxin. The recreational spiny lobster season for California anglers begins on Friday, September 29, 2023.​

Consumer​​s are warned to not eat the meat, viscera, or roe of lobsters that are from state waters located between the northern boundary of the Point Vicente State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) and the westernmost point of the Long Beach Breakwater.

Do not consume meat, viscera, or roe of lobsters from areas colored magenta, blue, or red (note this map.)   ​

In addition, CDPH is also warning consumers to not eat the viscera and roe of lobsters caught in state waters north and east of the above area. Only the meat from these lobsters may be consumed. Only the meat may be consumed from lobsters harvested from areas colored green (note this map.)

It is important to remember that cooking lobster does not decrease or destroy the toxin in the viscera or roe. It is always best to remove the viscera or roe and rinse out the body cavity prior to cooking, i.e., boil, steam, or fry. If whole lobsters are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach into the cooking liquid. The cooking water or broth should be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broth, soups or stews (for example, cioppino or gumbo), stocks, roux, dressings or dips. Consumers are advised to always discard the viscera, roe and cooking liquids, and follow these best preparation practices to avoid any inadvertent exposure to domoic acid that may be sporadically found the lobster's viscera or roe.

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 consumer may experience trouble breathing, confusion, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.

CDPH continues 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 areas until domoic acid levels have dissipated. Please contact CDFW for information about the recreational Spiny Lobster season.​

Test results are updated as laboratory results become available and can be viewed on the CDPH Domoic Acid webpage. Please visit CDPH's Domoic Acid FAQ for more information. To receive updated information about shellfish poisoning and quarantines, call CDPH's toll-free “Shellfish Information Line" at (800) 553-4133.​

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