Even if we try to avoid it as much as possible, lobsters can die in transit, in your holding tank, or while in storage. It may seem weird, but if a live lobster dies at home or in stores and you want to eat it, you can eat it.
But wait, you should know that eating a dead lobster can be risky—it safety to cook them and consume them within 2 hours of the lobster’s death. Keeping them in the refrigerator(below 40°F)can be safe for up to 24 hours, but it is not recommended.
When a lobster dies, the bacteria level will start to increase rapidly—which can cause food poisoning if you eat them raw or even cooked if the temperature isn’t high enough. Therefore it is essential to cook that dead Lobster at least 145°F (63 °C ) to kill the bacteria.
I will provide you with more information about this; first, let’s look at signs before lobsters died and how to tell if they are dead or alive.
How Can You Tell if a Lobster is Dead or Alive?
Before lobsters dead, you will see them start to become sluggish, some of them have foaming at their mouth, and their colors begin to fade; they are also significantly less active than before. If you are unsure whether the lobster is alive or dead, there are a few things to look for. There are a few key ways to tell if a lobster is dead or alive:
- The lobster’s claws: If the lobster’s claws are tightly clenched, it is likely alive. If the claws are relaxed, it may be dead.
- The lobster’s tail: A live lobster will curl its tail under its body when it is picked up or handled. If the tail is straight or limp, the lobster may be dead.
- The lobster’s eyes: Live lobsters have bright, clear eyes. If the eyes are cloudy or sunken, the lobster may be dead.
- Smell: If the lobster smells terrible, it is likely dead.
What Should You Do if You Find Out Live Lobster is Dead?
If you find out that the lobster is dead, you can still cook and eat it. However, you must cook the lobster thoroughly and consume it within 2 hours of its death. Any longer than that increases your risk for food poisoning.
It is also good to check the quality of the dead lobster before cooking. If it has discolored spots or smells bad, it’s best not to risk it and throw it away.
Why shouldn’t you eat a lobster that is dead?
When a lobster dies, autolysis (the breakdown and decomposition of the muscles) can lead to the formation of bacteria that can make the lobster unsafe to eat. The bacteria also snowball, producing toxins that can make you sick.
Additionally, the dead lobster’s flesh can become mushy, stringy, and discolored—all of which indicate a decline in quality.
If you want to freeze them, it is important to know that freezing can help reduce bacteria growth but does NOT kill bacteria. Just extend the period from 2 hours up to 24 hours. And it may be risky to any ingredients you store them in. So it is best not to freeze them if you don’t have the necessary precautions.
How to Safely Cook a Dead Lobster
Before cooking, you need to check for signs of decay. Some key indicators of decline in a lobster include:
- A strong, unpleasant smell
- Cloudy or sunken eyes
- Soft or discolored shell
- Slimy or mushy flesh
If the lobster exhibits any of these signs, it is unsafe to eat and should be properly disposed of.
Cook the Lobster
If the lobster appears in good condition, the next step is to cook it thoroughly. The heat of the cooking process will kill any bacteria or pathogens present in the lobster, making it safe to eat.
To ensure that the lobster is cooked thoroughly, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the lobster. The internal temperature of the lobster should reach at least 145°F (63°C) to ensure that it is safe to eat.
Other keys for safety tips include:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before handling the lobster.
- Do not leave the lobster out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Do not use the same cutting board or utensils for the lobster you use for other foods to prevent cross-contamination.
- Discard any leftovers within two hours of cooking.
By following these tips, you can safely cook and enjoy a dead lobster. Enjoy!