Don’t eat the lobster liver! (assuming you would...)


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The Food and Drug Administration today warned seafood lovers against eating the American lobster’s tomalley (a charming name given to the soft green goo that functions as the creature’s liver and pancreas). The green goo, the agency says, could be contaminated.

Not to worry, you can still eat the meat of the American lobster, also known as the Maine lobster. But the tomalley is believed to have extra high levels of toxins because of an ongoing red tide problem in northern North America (the eastern side). Considered a delicacy, the goo is sometimes used to flavor sauces.


Red tides, on the other hand, do nothing to enhance the lobster-eating experience. Also known as harmful algal blooms, the tides of note have produced toxins that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. This is an unpleasant as it sounds. Symptoms can include numbness of the mouth, face or neck and, if you’ve gone overboard with the stuff, death.

The warning applies to all American lobsters (harvested up and down the East Coast), which are not to be confused with the spiny lobsters found in California waters.

Here’s the FDA advisory; some information on red tides, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; a link to the Lobster Conservancy (know your lobsters, I say); and what the heck, a recipe for tomalley sauce (for later).

-- Tami Dennis