The Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) remind Mainers and tourists of recommendations for the safe consumption of shellfish.
Important steps people can take to thoroughly and safely enjoy Maine shellfish include:
- Purchase shellfish from a certified shellfish dealer. Their operations undergo rigorous public health screening and auditing.
- If harvesting for personal use, make sure the shellfish beds are not closed for pollution or biotoxin. Check the Department of Marine Resources' website for the latest information on closed areas.
- Do not consume clams or mussels from floating containers or floating in ocean waters. They are likely to have filtered much more algae-containing water than those from flats or beds, and therefore will usually have much higher concentrations of toxin.
- When eating lobster, do not eat the tomalley.
Advisories against eating tomalley have been in effect for years in Maine, neighboring states, and by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mostly due to the presence of PCB toxins, and more recently due to biotoxins. It is important to note that testing has shown lobster meat is safe to eat. Tomalley is the soft, green substance found in the body cavity of the lobster and functions as the liver. Much like the liver of other animals, the tomalley serves as a natural filter for contaminants that are in the water.
More information on biotoxins, including symptoms, closure notices and recreational harvesting can be found on the Maine DMR website.