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Oct 23, 2008 02:34 PM

Is my lobster safe to eat??

I just bought some fresh lobsters. When I put them in my crisper drawer (I'm not going to be cooking them for another 2 hours or so), I noticed that one had foam all around its head. This same one has a small piece off the end of its claw broken off. Its still alive and moving, but some people told me that if a lobster is dying, it will give off toxins and make you sick. Is this a tall tale? Do you think my lobster is ok?

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  1. Never saw a lobster with foam around it's head and never heard the toxins tale, but I'd say if it's still moving it's alive and I'd sure as hell eat it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JoanN

      Don't know much (if anything) about lobsters but could the foam be bubbles from the lobster's "breathing"?

    2. Lobsters bubble like that after they've been out of the water for a while. There are no toxins involved that I've ever heard of. So long as they're moving, they should be fine. Enjoy!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Pat Hammond

        I ate the little guy and it was fantastic. Thanks for the info everyone!

        1. re: thunderbug84

          For future reference, the foam or bubbles were a result from the lobster breathing and or spitting while out of the water....

          As for the supposed toxins.....I do not know the Scientific Process or name, but when a Lobster or Shrimp dies...and it has not been cooked....the Intestinal veins start to deteriorate and form gases which result in making the flesh compromised..which when cooked the flesh stays soft and does not cook firm....this is what is considered a bad Lobster or Shrimp as a result of the breakdown of the flesh.

          That's how it was explained to me by a Food Scientist from Cornell......

      2. Two 2 1/2 lb lobsters were mailed to me early in September. One arrived dead, the other was alive. I boiled both, and both were absolutely delicious. If your lobster has died, smell him for the scent of ammonia. If you smell ammonia, it's been dead too long. If you don't smell ammonia, then boil. If the meat has the consistency of "cottage cheese", then the lobster has been dead too long. Otherwise, boil, and if the meat is firm, peel, eat, and enjoy.

        3 Replies
        1. re: dhedges53

          Here's a question about your dead lobster. I've always heard that if a boiled lobster comes to you in a restaurant with the tail stretched out nice and flat, it's a sure sign that the lobster was dead when it went into the pot. I want my lobsters with a tightly curled tail, or I'd probably send it back. Did you, by any chance, notice any difference between the position of the tails of your two? It's probably an old wives tale (tail?), but I'd love to know the truth. I'm sure I'll embarrass myself one of these days!

          1. re: Pat Hammond

            Both lobsters were identical. They both had a curl. As you note, a straight tail may be a bad sign. I have found this to be true, especially with Gulf Shrimp and Crawfish. Straight tail, toss it away. But, I've found that there is a huge difference between Gulf seafood, and cold water seafood, such as Maine Lobster. My dad used to take me crabbing off of Bolivar Point on Galveston Island. We'd catch an icebox full of Blue Crab, and take them home. My father religiously threw away any dead Blue Crab. But, these were warm water bottom dwellers that tend to be full of bacteria when alive. And, after death, God only knows what they might contain. They might have been alright, but I can't say because I never ate one. By the way, the Gulf Blue Crab is the most flavorful crab I've ever eaten. And I've eaten all of the Snow Crabs, Dungeness, King, Box, and all the weird off shoots of Alaskan Crab. None compare to a Gulf Blue Crab cooked in a "crab boil", like Zatarains.

            1. re: Pat Hammond

              I have never tried this myself when cooking lobster, but I have heard/read that you can keep the tail flat when cooking by inserting a skewer. Thus, at a restaurant, a flat tale would not be a sure sign of death prior to cooking.