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FDA Lobster Tomalley warning

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Hi all,

Read in the Chicago Tribune's food blog this morning about the FDA issuing a warning about eating lobster tomalley from any American (Maine) lobsters. I know you shouldn't eat it during or shortly after a red tide, but ever???

I grew up eating tons of the delicious stuff (and just recently ate some when I was home in Marblehead), and never got sick (nor do I ever remember hearing of someone who got sick from it).

Anyone know the history behind this warning? Did a bunch of people get sick? Did someone die?

Link to article: Trib article on FDA tomalley warning

Thanks much for any info, as I love the stuff and don't want to be worried every time I eat it (not that an FDA warning will keep me from eating it...).



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Saw another article yesterday... don't recall the source (WebMD, perhaps?). It said that lobsters usually DON'T have toxins. There's currently a red tide problem. Maybe the FDA is becoming uber-conservative about warning the public because of all the other recent food-related illnesses (salmonella, e. coli, etc.).


"She sells shiso by the seashore."

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Did a bit more research---according to a MA red tide publication, you're not ever supposed to eat the tomalley, red tide or not.

See link:

MA Red Tide site

Is this really true? Or have all of us who eat the stuff often being risking our lives...

Two years ago there was a red tide (PSP) warning for parts of Nova Scotia. The DFO (Fedral Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans) said:

PSP is caused by a naturally-occurring algae (plankton) in coastal waters. When water temperatures rise, the amount of the algae in the water also increases.  As bivalve molluscs feed on this algae by filtering large volumes of water, they accumulate and concentrate the toxins. PSP toxins generally only occur in bivalve molluscs. Crab, lobster and shrimp are not affected by these kinds of toxins.

Two years ago is a long time for science and research, but I'm not yet prepared to pass up the delicacy within a delicacy:

. . . . The green stuff (aka tomalley) is the liver equivalent and it is one of the best tasting parts, to me anyways. Like other creatures it also tends to be a place for toxins to accumulate so some skip it. I mix it with some of the garlic butter and smear it on a bun.

ETA full DFO text: click

Edited by Peter the eater (log)

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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The warning came from the sampling done of commercial lobsters, no problem for the flesh but like all things it concentrates in the liver. Personally, I have eaten the tomalley for over 50 years with no problems but today is today with changes in water temperatures and other factors. So I would not eat the tomalley until the out break has past. Certain seafood beds are also off limits for fishing because of the tide. Red tide goes away with colder weather.-Dick

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