Community warned against consuming viscera of lobster from Santa Barbara, Ventura counties

Dangerous levels of domoic acid detected

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - A warning to all lobster lovers. The California Department of Public Health is advising the public not to eat the viscera -- internal organs, of lobsters caught near Santa Cruz Island in Santa Barbara County and Anacapa Island in Ventura County.

Public Health officials discovered dangerous levels of domoic acid in the lobsters from those regions which could lead to grave poisoning. Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin produced by algae and accumulates in shellfish.

When whole lobsters are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid, according to public health officials. It is advised that water or broth used to cook whole lobsters should be discarded and not used to make dishes like sauces, broths, soups or stews, stocks, roux, dressings or dips.

Officials say the viscera usually contains much higher levels of domoic acid than the meat and people are advised to throw those internal organs out.

Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. According to the California Department of Public Health, in mild cases, symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

 These symptoms usually disappear within a few days. However, in severe cases, symptoms may include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Confusion
  • Cardiovascular instability
  • Seizures
  • Excessive bronchial secretions
  • Permanent loss of short-term memory
  • Coma
  • Death

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment recommended the closure of a commercial lobster fishery around Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island.

For more information about shellfish poisoning and quarantines, call the California Department of Public Health's Shellfish Information Line at 1-800-553-4133 or visit

comments powered by Disqus

Top Local Stories