Information update

Health Canada is Reminding Canadians to Limit Consumption of Lobster Tomalley

Starting date:
June 3, 2014
Posting date:
June 3, 2014
Type of communication:
Information Update
Marine Biotoxin
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Food Safety
General Public
Identification number:


Although not widely consumed, some people enjoy lobster tomalley as a delicacy. Health Canada is reminding Canadians who are consuming tomalley from lobsters that there may be natural toxins present in this organ.

Tomalley is the soft, green substance found in the body cavity of lobster. It functions as the liver and pancreas and naturally filters out contaminants from the environment, including toxins associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Eating tomalley that contains PSP toxins may be harmful to your health.

Past information collected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency suggests that there is a possibility for a very small number of lobsters to contain PSP toxins in the tomalley at levels high enough to represent a safety concern to consumers if the tomalley is eaten. Since PSP toxins are not normally found in lobster meat, there are no health concerns with eating fresh or canned lobster meat.

Symptoms of PSP

PSP toxins are naturally produced by certain species of microscopic marine algae found in coastal waters. The toxin can affect the human nervous system and can be very serious if ingested in large amounts. Symptoms of a mild exposure include a tingling sensation or numbness of the lips shortly after eating. Larger exposures can lead to these symptoms spreading to the arms and legs, headaches, dizziness and nausea, and in rare cases more serious conditions such as muscular paralysis, respiratory difficulty, choking and even death if medical attention is not received in time.

If you experience any symptoms of PSP after consuming lobster tomalley, you should immediately consult a health care professional.

What you should do

While there have been no confirmed cases of PSP from consuming lobster tomalley, Health Canada recommends that:

  • Children not eat lobster tomalley.
  • Adults restrict their consumption of lobster tomalley to no more than the amount from one cooked lobster per day.

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Health Canada
(613) 957-2983

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