We’ve all laughed at those over-the-top scenes in movies. Guy eats bad seafood on a date, all chances of romance get flushed down the toilet along with his dignity. Whether it was lobster food poisoning, a shellfish allergy, or bad sushi, it’s always the ultimate buzzkill.
Here at LobsterAnywhere, we love celebrating the bounty of the sea, whether it’s lobster tacos or bacon wrapped scallops. For all of the beautiful, fresh seafood though there is a dark side that can lead to seafood poisoning, or set off a shellfish allergy.
As much as it’s fun to talk about butter bathed lobster and tender seared scallops, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms, as well as how seafood poisoning can happen and be prevented.
While the majority of cases of food poisoning relating to seafood stem from other varieties of bivalves and finfish, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms. In addition, it’s also important to know what to look for when it comes to shellfish allergies. With LobsterAnywhere, you will discover all the possible reasons why you’ve gotten sick after eating lobster. Let’s dive into the LOBSTER world and find some answers.
Not every case of getting sick from lobster is caused from food poisoning. While there are a few similar symptoms, there are also symptoms unique to having a shellfish allergy. We know what you’re thinking. You’ve gone the majority of your life happily relishing celebrating the summer with lobster rolls and surf and turf feasts and never had any sort of reaction.
According to research however, approximately 2% of people in the US reported being allergic to shellfish. People with shellfish allergies are affected by all types of shellfish, such as crabs, lobsters, prawns, etc.
You can also go through a large part of your life and not experience symptoms and develop an allergy later in life. In fact, shellfish allergies are the number one most common food allergy in adults. Here are some common symptoms to look for.
- Itchy skin
- Facial swelling, swelling of throat or tongue
- Trouble breathing or catching your breath
- Coughing or a tight feeling in your throat
- Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
There are two types of shellfish; crustaceans and mollusks. The crustaceans involve shrimp, prawns, crabs, and lobsters, and mollusks involve clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, octopus, squid, abalone, and snail. Crustacean allergies are more common in some people than others.
When to Seek Medical Attention for Shellfish Allergies
Shellfish allergies can cause a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis. It can happen within seconds to minutes of consuming shellfish such as lobster. It’s the bodies response to the allergen, causing the immune system to release a barrage of chemicals that can cause you to go into shock. If you or anyone you know experiences any of these symptoms after consuming lobster or any other shellfish, seek medical attention immediately.
- Restricted airway or trouble breathing
- Sudden drop of blood pressure or shock
- Severe skin rash, hives, or itching
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
Even if you don’t have a severe reaction but you believe you have a shellfish allergy, you should make an appointment with an allergist or healthcare professional.
What is Lobster Food Poisoning?
We’ve all seen those perky pink commercials with the annoyingly catchy phrase that is a litany of every worst-case food consumption scenario. Any and all singular food and prepared dishes bring with it the risk of food born illness. From E. coli laced romaine lettuce to Listeria contaminated ice cream, no food is totally safe, including our favorite beloved clawed crustacean.
While food poisoning is much more common with bivalves such as oysters and clams because of the way they filter water, being filter feeders, there are certain instances that can lead to getting sick from lobster. Lobster food poisoning, aka Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection, is caused by consuming bad, undercooked, raw, or contaminated lobster. Such unhealthy lobster consumption can make you severely ill with many unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
Moreover, you can even get infected by norovirus from eating contaminated lobster. It is a highly contagious virus that can initiate various gastrointestinal issues.
Symptoms of Lobster Food Poisoning
It’s like that scene from Bridesmaids and hits you from nowhere. The cold sweat, the churning, the intense need to just curl up in a ball and hug the cool bathroom tile. The symptoms for lobster food poisoning vary from person to person, and also from the type of food poisoning. People may experience different symptoms depending on their individual circumstances. Here are some of the most common symptoms a person may experience.
- Muscle ache
- Abdominal pain
It may take 30-40 minutes for the symptoms to appear after eating lobster. However, it takes some time or even hours for the symptoms to worsen or for you to start feeling lobster sick.
How Do You Treat Lobster Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning cases caused by shellfish usually resolve on their own after some time. Antibiotics don’t work in the case of shellfish poisoning, but many over-the counter medications such as Pepto-Bismol, or bismuth, work to help lessen the symptoms. Avoid taking medication to control diarrhea and vomiting however as they can lengthen the duration of the illness. Make sure that you stay well hydrated, even if it small, frequent sips of fluid, and do not induce vomiting. Most cases of seafood poisoning resolve on their own in within 48 hours while some cases may take longer. If your symptoms persist or worsen make sure to seek medical attention.
When To Seek Medical Intervention
While most cases of seafood poisoning resolve on their own there are instances when you should seek medical attention immediately.
- If you or the person suffering from seafood poisoning can’t tolerate any fluds.
- If they become listless or nonresponsive.
- Seek medical attention if they have a persistent fever.
- Immediately seek attention if there is any blood in the stool as this could be a sign of a bacterial infection.
The Top 4 Causes of Lobster Food Poisoning
Let’s clear the air first! Unless you have a shellfish allergy, which we will get into, the lobster itself is not going to make to sick. It’s how you eat it and how it’s prepared that’s going to make or break your health. Lobster is a nutritious food consumed by millions of people. Not only is it incredibly delicious, but it’s a low-calorie food packed with nutrients and minerals. Just like people get sick form lettuce and kale, the same holds true with lobster food poisoning. It’s all about how it’s stored and prepared.
If not eaten under appropriate cooking and eating conditions, lobster CAN make you sick! These are the five ways lobster can make you sick.
Most of the time, undercooked lobster is your culprit! It’s either that the restaurant served you raw lobster because they wanted it to feel fresh and soft, or you maybe you mistakenly undercooked it at home because of a lack of experience or guidance.
But how can you tell if lobster is undercooked? Here’s the way to stop before eating undercooked lobster!
Check the meat to see if it’s mushy or if the visuals are translucent. A perfectly cooked lobster is;
- Opaque in color (off white to pearly white)
- The texture should feel firm with just a little spring.
- The lobster’s tail is curled under it.
- The shell is a vibrant red.
- When cooking the lobster yourself, always rely on an instant read thermometer. You want to aim for around 140 degrees.
Eating Raw Lobster
A raw food diet may be trendy for some weight loss diets. However, not everything should be eaten raw, such as lobsters or crab. Raw lobster may be the worst food selection you can opt for! Only specific seafood is suitable for raw consumption, such as sushi-grade tuna. Eating certain raw seafood such as crab or pollock can not only make you sick from food poisoning but can also carry parasites.
In 2017, an outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection occurred in Canada. It was because of the consumption of raw lobster that affected more than 50 people, making them seek emergency care.
Moreover, in 2015, there was a norovirus outbreak in the US caused by the same reason; raw lobster consumption. But this time, it affected more than 500 people, making it a serious issue.
Here’s a little advice for your questions on whether can you eat raw lobster. Never think of eating raw lobster, PLEASE! Whether you utilize the ease of modern technology and cook your lobster in an air fryer or go with the classic method of boiling your lobsters, always, always cook your lobster.
Lobster Gone Bad
Another reason you’re suffering from lobster food poisoning is bad lobster. It can be a frozen lobster that was sitting inside your freezer for months or maybe turned bad after spending days on the grocery store’s shelves. But how to know if lobster is bad? A bad lobster is smelly, mushy, hard, discolored, slimy, or unusual in texture.
If any of these apply to a lobster you’ve purchased, taken out of your freezer, or are about to cook, immediately discard it. That’s your sign for pizza night.
Our beloved lobsters happily swim in the cold Atlantic waters. Whether it’s cold-water Atlantic lobsters or warm water dwelling rock lobsters, the water is their home. We all know that water can be contaminated easily by a lot of things that can affect the surrounding living organisms in the water, such as fish and shellfish. This phenomenon is known as red tide, or paralytic shellfish poisoning.
If you’ve ever had a beach vacation ruined by dead fish washing ashore and the smell of rotting seafood, you might be familiar with this environmental condition. Red tide is the result of a population explosion of toxic, poison producing plankton. These algae blooms usually occurs when the surface area of the water is warm and the seas are calm in conjunction with low salinity.
While it affects all of the residents that call the water home, it doesn’t mean all seafood is unsafe to eat. Only animals that store toxins in their digestive tracts are unsafe to eat. Here is a list of shellfish not to consume if affected by a red tide.
- Hardshell and Softshell Clams
- Moon Snails
Because not all seafood collects the toxins in their digestive tracts, some shellfish and finfish are safe to eat, including lobsters. Here is a list of approved seafood.
- Lobsters – Lobsters are safe to consume during a red tide, however their tomalley, the green part that is their live, is not safe. However, it is not recommended that you eat the tomalley even when there isn’t a red tide. This is like the liver and pancreas combined for the lobster. While lobsters don’t filter feed they do consume other species that do such as clams and scallops. If those food they consume is affected by paralytic shellfish poisoning, the toxins can accumulate in their tomalley.
- Most finfish
Types of Shellfish Poisoning
The term food poisoning, lobster food poisoning, and shellfish poisoning are a broad, blanket term. While most instances of getting sick from eating any sort of seafood can be prevented by properly cooking fresh seafood, there are certain instances were cooking the seafood correctly won’t prevent foodborne illness.
- Ciguatera – Ciguatera is caused by eating fish contaminated with toxins from tiny algae blooms in the warm waters surrounding coral reefs. The ciguatera can accumulate in reef fish that pray upon other fish. The fish you will want to avoid during these algae blooms are barracuda, moray eel, red snapper, sturgeon, grouper, amberjack, parrot fish, and sea bass. Symptoms may last for days but it’s not unusual for them to last for months. You should seek medical attention immediately if you believe you have ciguatera. Here is a list of some of the symptoms.
- Stomach Pain
- Less common symptoms can include itching, tooth pain, sensitivity to hot and cold, blurred vision, or a metallic taste in the mouth.
- Scombroid – Scombroid occurs from consuming fish that hasn’t been properly refrigerated after being caught. It is one of the most common types of fish poisoning. The fish most affected by scombroid are tuna, mahi-mahi, anchovies, marlin, sardines, herring, bluefish, amberjack, and herring. The symptoms usually present themselves withing minutes to an hour of consuming the contaminated fish and can be similar to an allergic reaction. The symptoms be treated with antihistamines however even without treatment most cases resolve themselves in 12-48 hours. Here are the symptoms to look for.
- Flushing of the face
- Heart palpitations
- Blurred vision
How to Eat Lobster Safely
Now that we’ve probably freaked you out with all of the worst-case scenarios, know that it’s really that. Most of us will go through our lives and never experience getting sick from lobster. But here is easy addvice to follow.
When you step inside a restaurant, you sign up to give control of your health to someone else’s (Chef) hands. You never know what goes inside the great kitchen. They’re giving you undercooked, raw, months-old frozen, or bad lobster seasons perfectly so you don’t feel the taste difference. It is easy to check and find the safety rating the health department issued that establishment.
However, you can ensure the quality of your lobster meals if you order from trusted vendors, restaurants, and suppliers. Lobster Anywhere is one of the best wild-cast lobster companies in the US that cares most about their client’s health. We source lobsters directly from the Lobstermen of Eastern coasts, who collect freshly caught lobsters daily.
Whether you order raw lobster or a cooked lobster dish, Lobster Anywhere guarantees a fresh, optimally cooked, and healthy lobster meal!
Top Tips for Safely Cooking Lobster at Home
Once the lobster is delivered to your home it’s important that you immediately place it in the freezer if you plan on cooking it later on, or the refrigerator if you want to cook it the next day. The safest way to properly defrost your lobster is by allowing it to gently defrost in the refrigerator overnight. This will also give you the best texture. Once your lobster has defrosted, we recommend that you cook it within 24 hours of it being defrosted. Here are our top tips for how to safely handle and cook lobster once it arrives at your home.
- Live Lobsters – If you order live lobsters, always make sure that you cook them within 24 hours of arrival.
- Lobster Tails – Our lobster tails are individually quick-frozen locking in their prime flavor and texture. Immediately place them in the freezer if you plan on cooking them later or let them gently defrost in the refrigerator if you plan on cooking them the next day. Once they have defrosted plan on cooking them within 24 hours.
- Store Properly – Live lobsters should be kept cold until ready to be cooked. The Styrofoam coolers with gel packs they arrive in will keep them cool, but you can also place them in the refrigerator. Frozen lobster should be kept frozen.
- Cook to Temperature – A instant read thermometer is your best friend. 135-140 degrees is the recommended temperature to cook your lobster too for both safety and the best texture. While there is nothing worse than overcooked lobster, you also don’t want undercooked lobster.
- Leftovers – Make sure that you store your leftovers, if there are any, in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eat them within 3-4 days.
Lobster Food Poisoning in a Nutshell
There is a reason that lobsters are a celebrated and beloved king of the sea, even having two national lobster days. Their sweet, succulent meat is a decadent treat perfect for a backyard barbecue with smoked lobster tails or special occasion.
Lobsters are widely consumed throughout the world. The global lobster market reached a value of US$6.3 Billion in 2021. While some lobster lovers have lobster related shellfish allergies and a few get sick with lobster food poisoning, the majority of us will happily continue cracking away and dipping sumptuous lobster meat into butter.
When you order from LobsterAnywhere you are guaranteed the freshest hardshell Atlantic lobsters that are sustainably sourced. You can pick your delivery date and they will arrive overnight. Stop searching for the best sea food near me and order your favorite meal now from our Lobster specials with a quality, freshness, taste, and cooking guarantee. Hurry up and start eating healthy lobster with us!
Public Health Notice – Outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus linked to raw shellfish – Canada.ca
Food Poisoning from Shellfish: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment (webmd.com)
Shellfish allergy – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
Red Tide (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning) | Mass.gov
To Eat or Not to Eat: Lobster Tomalley | Cook’s Illustrated (americastestkitchen.com)