The Quinault Tribe of the Northwestern United States is voluntarily recalling almost 58,000 pounds of live or un-eviscerated Dungeness crab because of possible domoic acid contamination, which can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning in people. 

With Dungeness crab being a popular New Year’s dish, public health officials in Washington state posted the recall notice today in hopes of reaching holiday cooks before meals are prepared. It is not clear how far the crab may have been distributed.

Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin produced by certain types of algae and can be harmful to humans if contaminated shellfish is consumed. 

Domoic acid can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP) with symptoms including vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps within 24 hours of ingestion. In severe cases, ASP can cause permanent short-term memory loss.

All live or un-eviscerated Dungeness crab harvested from Dec. 23 through Dec. 28 from the Point Chehalis to Destruction Island GHPO056 zone by the Quinault Tribe are subject to recall.

The recalled live crab was sold to food processors in Washington State, with further distribution to wholesalers and retailers. This recall is being issued due to elevated domoic acid levels in crab viscera — the internal organs or “butter” — tested during enhanced biotoxin monitoring. 

Dungeness crab meat samples have not exceeded the FDA regulatory action level at this time. Customers who purchased live or whole crab harvested by the Quinault Tribe from during the designated harvest time are advised to destroy or eviscerate all product. Consumers with questions should contact the place of purchase.

Local health jurisdictions in Washington are not being asked to participate in any formal recall verification activities at this time, but appropriate staff should be aware of the recall.

For other recent food recalls affecting Washington State, see:

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