Why Farmed Abalone is Still Safe to Eat
Recently, there has been quite a bit of concern regarding the safety of certain seafood in California due to the current levels of domoic acid in shellfish, crabs, anchovy, and sardines. An increase in domoic acid is a naturally occurring phenomenon that is directly related to harmful algal blooms or “red tides”. These blooms are simply an increase in a particular phytoplankton (Psuedonitzschia australis) that produces domoic acid. Filter feeders eat the plankton, and whatever eats these filter feeders will end up concentrating the toxins in their bodies; a process called biomagnification. It is for this reason that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently updated its warning to consumers regarding certain seafood caught in Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara counties. Consumption of contaminated organisms can cause amnesiac shellfish poisoning which is not neutralized by cooking or freezing.
So why is Abalone safe to eat? The bottom line is that Abalone do not eat the toxic plankton. Abalone are grazing animals and eat seaweed, not plankton. At the Abalone Farm our abalone are raised in controlled conditions. While it can be argued that baby abalone do eat algae, it is not the toxic type of phytoplankton. We grow our algae inside our facility to feed them a sustainable “algae slurry” that is NOT affected by the wild algal blooms. Additionally, consumer-sized red abalones are not filter feeders. Abalones use a radula (a rasp-like tongue) to graze on kelp. At the Abalone Farm, we harvest kelp from the Central Coast and feed it to our farmed abalone. We also grow our own crop of seaweed called Dulce to supplement their kelp diet.
While it is important to heed the warnings of the CDPH, you can rest easy knowing that Abalone raised and distributed by the Abalone Farm in Cayucos, California is safe to eat. So take a break from crabs and scallops and try some abalone today!