Monday, July 28, 2008

Lobster Lovers Beware: Toxic Tomalley

All lobster lovers, and even lobster first-timers, recognize the tomalley – the green stuff inside the crustacean. Some people enjoy eating it, while others – myself included – find its appearance rather off-putting. Now I have a socially-acceptable reason for scraping off the tomalley.

The state health departments in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have posted warnings about toxic tomalley. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, the state of Maine has found that toxins produced during a "red tide" are concentrated in the tomalley. Eating tomalley from a lobster that was feeding in a red tide area could result in paralytic shellfish poisoning.

The tomalley is a lobster's liver. It acts as a filter, removing toxins – natural and man-made – that would otherwise poison the crustacean. Those toxins, including PCB's, are concentrated in the tomalley.

None of the toxin accumulates in the lobster meat, which remains safe even during a red tide event. So enjoy that lobster. But don't be shy about discarding the tomalley.

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