By Beth Daley, Globe Staff
Probably you've never eaten it. But maybe you are one of those people who grab lobster off other people's plates to devour it.
And if you are, put the tomalley - that soft green substance found in lobster cavities - down.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning the public to avoid eating tomalley in all American lobsters because the green stuff - which functions as the liver and pancreas - can have dangerous levels of the toxin that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.
Routine sampling of lobsters in Maine and New Hampshire turned up the high levels which are not believed to affect lobster meat and probably stem from an outbreak of red tide in Northern New England and eastern Canada.
Symptoms of PSP include tingling and/or numbness of the mouth, face or neck; muscle weakness, headache; and nausea. In extreme cases, when large amounts of the toxin are consumed, these symptoms can lead to respiratory failure and death. Symptoms usually occur within two hours of exposure to the toxin.
Do you eat tomalley?
About the green blog
Helping Boston live a greener, more environmentally friendly life.
Christopher Reidy covers business for the Globe.
Doug Struck covers environmental issues from Boston.
Glenn Yoder produces Boston.com's Lifestyle pages.
Eric Bauer is site architect of Boston.com.
Bennie DiNardo is the Boston Globe's deputy managing editor/multimedia.
Dara Olmsted is a local sustainability professional focusing on green living.