Is It Safe To Eat Blue Crabs?

Practically no one will turn down a good crab dish. Crab dishes are a favorite among many because of their irresistible and delectable taste. However, most people have only had crabs that are red in color. Is this to suggest that blue crab should never be served? Continue reading to find out if the blue crab is safe to eat.

It is perfectly safe to eat blue crabs. Blue crabs have been eaten for 100s of years with no problem. In fact, evidence shows that Native Americans, Euro-American colonists, and African Americans often feasted on blue crabs. So, the next time you get a chance, do not be afraid to try blue crabs.

While blue crabs are generally safe to eat, there are occasions when it is unsafe to consume. Continue reading to learn more.

Is Eating Blue Crab Safe?

Crab is always a crowd-pleaser. Its delectable taste is hard to resist, even for the most strong-willed person. But not all crabs should be eaten. Some crabs are toxic and can kill within a few hours of consumption. Many of these toxic crabs sport bright colors, and others are deceptively normal looking. So, are the bright blue colors on the blue crab a warning to stay away?

Typically, bright colors are an indication of venom and poison in animals. The colors are a giant red (or blue, yellow, or orange) sign that predators should not eat them and keep their distance. In the case of humans versus crabs, humans are the predators. However, many animals have evolved to fool predators into believing they are poisonous when they actually would make a perfectly good snack.

These animals also sport bright colors and can even closely mimic other deadly species. So how can we tell the difference? Well, one of the ways is trial and error. Thankfully, humans have been eating crustaceans (lobster, crab, shrimp) for 1000s of years. In those years, blue crabs have been tried and tested. So did the blue crab pass the safety check?

Yes. Blue crabs are perfectly safe to eat. Evidence shows that Native American, Euro American colonists, and African Americans were clearly feasting on blue crabs -much more than previously thought. So, feel free to eat blue crab. It is perfectly safe and delicious. As long you are not allergic to crustaceans(and thus blue crab), you are in the all-clear.

When Is Eating Blue Crab Unsafe? 

Eating blue crab, for the most part, is safe to eat. But no food source is 100% safe to eat all the time. Under certain circumstances, eating blue crab can make you unwell or severely harm your health. To learn more about when eating blue crab is unsafe, read on.

Eating Blue Crab With Allergies Is Unsafe

You should never eat crab if you know you are allergic to shellfish, more specifically crustaceans. Allergic reactions to shellfish vary from person to person. Some reactions are mild and last for a shorter period, while others are more severe and can last for longer periods. However, shellfish allergies tend to have more severe reactions than other allergies.

Even if your reactions are mild and ‘manageable,’ it is still best to avoid shellfish altogether. Reactions can worsen over time, so once you develop an allergy, you should take the food off your dietary list. Also, crustacean allergies are infamous for springing up out of the blue.

Many people have eaten lobsters, crabs, and shrimp without a problem their whole lives and then suddenly developed an allergy to them. Allergic reactions can occur seconds to minutes or several hours after consumption. The most severe reaction is anaphylaxis which can cause death if not treated. Unfortunately, anaphylaxis can also occur on first-time allergies to shellfish.

If you notice any dizziness, shortness of breath, wheezing, throat tightening, swelling of the face and throat, hives, or stomach aches, seek emergency care immediately. If epinephrine is available, the drug can be administered. However, you should still seek emergency care after the drug is administered, as it is not uncommon for symptoms to re-occur several hours later.

Eating Dead Blue Crab Is Unsafe

Eating dead blue crabs is a no-no. I am not referring to crabs that have been killed for the purpose of cooking, but rather crabs that have been dead for several hours. If you do not know when the crab has died, it is best not to eat it.

Once a crab has died, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. The spread of bacteria is exacerbated in warm temperatures (room temperature) or hot temperatures. Therefore, not only will the meat become mushy and flavorless, but it also has the potential to make you seriously sick. Shellfish poisoning happens when you eat crab (or any other shellfish) contaminated by bacteria or viruses.

Sometimes you can tell if the crab is contaminated by discolored meat, mushy texture, or putrid odor. However, this is not always the case. So it is best to eat crab as fresh as possible. Shellfish poisoning happens 4-48 hours after consumption. Shellfish poisoning symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • and Cramps

If you have any of these signs, drink plenty of fluids and do not induce vomiting. It is also best to consult with a medical practitioner where possible.

Eating Raw Blue Crab Is Unsafe

Crabs that are raw should never be eaten. Raw crabs contain bacteria and parasites that are harmful to your health. Raw crab can cause Cholera and severe sickness caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae and Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

Raw crab also harbors parasitic flatworms that travel into the lungs when consumed. In more serious cases, the parasite can affect the central nervous system. Marinating raw crab in wine, vinegar, soy sauce, or any other acid-base is not enough to kill the bacteria or parasites. The crab needs to be thoroughly cooked to kill off harmful bacteria and parasites.

Conclusion

Blue crabs are perfectly safe to eat (under the right conditions). It is only unsafe to eat blue crabs if you have a shellfish allergy or plan to eat a dead or raw crab.

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