Crab Safety Threshold: Different Agency, Different Intrepretation

Sampling results for Dungeness crabs collected on 20 February in off of Trinidad, California, came back nearly clean this week, with only one crab listed as beyond the safety threshold for domoic acid. Unfortunately, that crab tested right at the safety threshold – 30 parts per million – begging the question as to whether the safety guidelines dictate that crabs right at 30 ppm are considered dirty or clean.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) food safety guidelines indicate that Dungeness crab viscera right at 30 ppm is within the safety tolerance limit, but the California’s Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) are utilizing testing protocol from Washington state, which indicates that crabs at 30 ppm and above are considered dirty.

PCFFA & IFR are pressing DFW to change the status of the 20 February Trinidad test to “clean” on the grounds that the safety thresholds on the West Coast all hearken back to the FDA standards. Revision of the test results could impact season opening protocol in the northern management districts.

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