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CDPH Lifts Warning about Recreationally Harvested Dungeness Crab from Parts of the California Coast

Date: November 29, 2021
Number: SN21-010

Contact: CDPH Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Program


The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has lifted the shellfish safety notification for Dungeness crab caught in state waters from the Sonoma/Mendocino County Line (38° 46.125' N. Latitude) to Point Reyes (38° N. Latitude) in Marin County.

CDPH lifted this advisory due to recent tests showing that domoic acid has declined to low or undetectable levels in Dungeness crab caught in the area, indicating they are safe to consume. There have been no reported illnesses associated with this event. CDPH initially warned consumers on November 5, 2021 not to consume the viscera of Dungeness crab recreationally harvested from that region.

There are currently no warnings for domoic acid in Dungeness crab on the California coast.

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 crab's viscera. When whole crab is cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole crab 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 crab does not decrease or destroy the toxin in the viscera or body meat. Consumers are advised to discard the viscera and cooking liquids. The best ways to reduce the risks are to remove the crab viscera and rinse out the body cavity prior to cooking, i.e., boil, steam, or fry. Discard all 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 consumer may experience trouble breathing, confusion, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.

Test results can be viewed on the CDPH Domoic Acid webpage. Please visit CDPH's Domoic Acid FAQ webpage for more information. For the most current information on shellfish advisories and quarantines, call CDPH's toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133.

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