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Crab must be gutted prior to cooking

Crab must be gutted prior to cooking for public health safety, according to the ODA.

SOUTH COAST - The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have announced the establishment of a biotoxin management zone from Bandon (43° 07’) to the California-Oregon border (42° 00’). Traceability measures will be used to ensure whole crab are eviscerated.

Dungeness crab internal organs (viscera) sampled from the area have biotoxins above the alert level, indicating that crab harvested from the biotoxin management zone must be eviscerated (gutted) before it is safe for consumption. Crab meat remains safe for consumption. Domoic acid levels are elevated only in crab viscera, or the guts, of crab sampled and tested from this area of the Oregon coast.

Because of Oregon’s precautionary management of biotoxins, the crab and shellfish products currently being sold in retail markets and restaurants are safe for consumers.

ODA and ODFW will continue monitoring biotoxins in crab and shellfish to ensure that the concentrations of harvested products from all of Oregon remain below the alert level.

Domoic acid is a naturally occurring biotoxin produced by marine phytoplankton or algae that grow and bloom during certain seasons. When the algae are in high numbers, the biotoxin they produce is eaten and concentrated by crabs and other species.

Eating shellfish that is contaminated with domoic acid can cause illness in humans within minutes to hours resulting in cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, consumption can result in memory problems or even death. The toxin cannot be destroyed by cooking, adding baking soda, or any other method. Anyone experiencing these symptoms after eating seafood should contact a physician immediately.

Fortunately for crab consumers, the majority of domoic acid resides in the internal organs– not the meat– and is effectively removed through “evisceration” (also known as “backing”) of the crab, to remove the internal organs. For this reason, it is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to cooking, which includes removal and discard of the internal organs and gills.

For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page at:

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