Don’t Eat that Lobster!

by Marlo on January 3, 2007 · 18 comments

in Family,Health

Last night, we decided to have lobster for dinner. Nope it’s not what you think, this was a rare occasion. We can afford to only have lobster once a year around Valentine’s Day from LobsterGram using the DiscoverCard Cashback Bonus points (expect a post about this next month). On New Year’s Eve, my mom was kind enough to give us a pair of cooked lobsters which she bought from a fundraiser for her Medical Association.

I prepared the table for dinner and decided to pick the bigger lobster and placed it on my plate while Elaine wasn’t looking. I cracked open my lobster and behold a nasty ammonia smell arose. It burned my nose. I don’t know what got into me, but I kept smelling it trying to find a hint that maybe it was a mistake. But no, every delicious part: the fat, the claws, even the tasty tail reeked of ammonia. Elaine was kind of enough to share her lobster with myself and Sammy. No shellfish for baby Sophie until three.

Apparently, lobsters deteriorate pretty fast when they die. If the tail is limp or smells like ammonia, then it means the lobster was dead too long before cooking. Anyone know why? I’m glad nature gave it a pungent smell as a warning to not eat bad food. If it didn’t smell that bad, I would have honestly eaten it.

Remember folks, never eat lobster or any shellfish that smells like ammonia. Heck, don’t eat anything that smells like cleaning fluid.


1 Elaine January 3, 2007 at 10:57 pm

Haha, Marlo! That’s what you get for trying to sneak the bigger lobster!

I think it’s no shellfish until 18 months and no nuts until age 3 for baby Sophie. Gotta double check with the pediatrician on that one.

2 JV January 9, 2007 at 4:07 pm


3 Kimberly McDougal December 9, 2009 at 12:52 am

but what if we DID eat it?

4 Chef Nate Michaud May 27, 2010 at 2:40 am

If you would have ate that lobster, then you would have most probably contracted some type of food poisioning… Nausea, vomiting, diariah, possibly worse symptoms as well… The severity of the food poisioning usually depends on the size of the person as well as the strength of their immune system and how much bad food was ingested… With that said, if you are ever in doubt about any type of food, you are better off throwing it out, some food poisioning can cause paralisis and even memeory loss and respritory failure… (I have been in the foodservice industry for over 10 years)…

5 Scott October 21, 2010 at 7:14 pm

I just steamed some tails and immediately smelled a chemical smell, I googled it and found this page, and did not eat one piece of it. I will be emailing the grocery store I got them from. This makes me mad! On top of being “bad” they were marked $6.99 per tail and I was charged $9.99. I hope my buddy doesnt get sick, he ate his.

6 Douglas Costello December 31, 2010 at 6:32 pm

7:30pm New Year’s eve and preparing my lobster and what do you think made me stumble accross this page? This sucks….found numerous sights ringing the same bell. Where the hell am I supposed to get replacement dinner now??

7 Stacey April 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I just found your page and thank God I did. I ordered twin stuffed lobsters and after eating just one claw, I tasted and smelled ammonia. The waiter quickly removed it from my tableafter explaining my experience. I will never doubt my instincts again and I’m happy that you confirmed my suspicions that the lobster was bad.

8 Kurt May 26, 2012 at 4:05 am

Make sure you don’t confuse the “ammonia” smell with the fishy smell of overcooked lobster. I have overcooked live lobster, and it reeks. It is, however, safe to eat.

9 Greg/enfield ,CT June 2, 2012 at 10:00 am

My girlfriend smelled ammonia in a lobster tail, unfortunately at the end of her meal,I’m grateful for the many helpful posts at this site.all I can say is that our bodies are very efficient & if it tells you to throw up, do so, it’s rejecting the food for a very good reason. With a bad economy, more restaurants are less willing to dispose of bad food.

10 Tati October 13, 2012 at 11:51 am

I went to a Christmas dinner at a restaurant with some friends (we all are expats living in Asia so most of us don’t have family here to share the holidays with). The opening dishes were okay, but when the owner brought out the turkey, I honestly thought someone had left the bathroom door open (people usually throw their toilet paper away instead of flushing it). The underside of the meat looked like tan curdled milk. I took a bite of the turkey and nearly gagged when I realized that it wasn’t the bathroom that smelled like that. I know for sure, because I had to run in there a few times during the meal from the nausea that overtook me and the bathroom actually smelled nice – certainly much nicer than our entree. Everyone at the table kept talking about how good it was and taking seconds and thirds. Now after seeing this website I know that it wasn’t just my imagination. There was something fishy about that turkey.

11 Jean December 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm

From Costco, I purchased 8 frozen lobster tails (they were individually frozen and vacuum sealed, then packed in one large box) on 20 Dec. The product label said they were from Brazil. The price was $84.95US.

The tails remained frozen and then on 24 Dec we cooked the frozen tails in boiling water. When they were finished cooking, the tails reeked of ammonia. This was very alarming and disappointing! Since it was late Christmas Eve, we had no quick run to the store to provide other proteins for our guests. We gambled and ate it. Thank GOD we did not get sick, especially after reading some very scary posts online.

I reported the issue to Costco and hope they’ll keep note for future product. AND I think we’ll go back to prime rib for next Christmas!

12 kevin February 14, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I bought mine from Costco as well on Approx. 1-4-13. What a great Valentines Day Meal!

13 Rod September 15, 2013 at 1:39 am

Yep. Dead lobster is one of the worst smells…EVER. Buying them from the market is risky at best. They have been caught and held in a pound for god knows how long before they made it to the supermarket. Then they are crammed in a tank that gets cleaned…um…does it ever get cleaned? Supermarket lobsters are like POWs. A long way from home and thoroughly abused.

My uncle is a lobsterman in ME and I am lucky enough to eat them right out of the trap. We cook them in the sea water they were caught in. I can tell you that they taste so much better alive…I mean truly alive…and fresh.

If you don’t live where lobsters do, then you are going to get sub-par specimens. They won’t be sweet and juicy and at worst foul and toxic. Supermarket lobsters are like the cows that have to be pulled up the slaughterhouse ramp via a chain. You are better off buying a rotisserie chicken.

If you insist on getting supermarket lobsters, then this is my advice: buy the fighters. Regardless of size, you want the feisty bastards that raise their claws in the air and fight the net. They scurry away and resist to the end. The sad sacks that go willingly are on deaths-door and you don’t want them. A good lobster fights you all the way into the pot…and even might fight their way out of it.

My advice is to save your money. Take a trip to New England (a lovely vacation) an eat one where they are native.

14 Sophie January 1, 2014 at 8:42 am

Yep! Sounds familiar…New Year’s Eve dinner.
Thank God we had prime rib with our dinner last night because most of our 7 small pre cooked lobsters had a pungent smell of ammonia. We didn’t dare eat any of them. The house absolutely wreaked, we kept all our receipts and will be returning to the grocery store tomorrow for a full money back refund.

15 Flynn February 23, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I went to a restaurant last night 2/22/14 . I ordered stuffed lobster tail , after receiving it , I was surprised of how much stuffing was on the tail !
I started eating the stuffing and it was very good = I hadn’t tried the tail yet , when I took the tail out of the shell , I noticed a strong smell of amonia ,
I asked my buddy to smell it , He thought I was nuts , but. Smelled it anyway
, I said what does this shell smell like he said ammonia , OK
I tried the tail anyway (like an idiot ) something was not rite , when the server came around I said to her this does not smell rite , she took it back and said she would ask the sheff ~~~ a few minutes went by and she brought back the same tail minus the shell , she said it was fine it was only the shell that smelled bad and it was reheated !
Wrong , I ate a few more bites and that was it ! Still Did not taste rite
I took the rest in a doggy bag , they were not taking it back !
I went back to my buddy’s place feeling sick , within 5 to 10 minutes after getting back ~~~~~dinner came back up along with everything I had eaten the entire day !!!!!!!!
Obviously it was bad !!!
I am calling the restaurant when they open today and tell them I had food poisoning from their food !
If anybody wants to respond to this I would like your opinion
BESIDES calling me an idiot for eating something I knew was not rite !!!!!!!! My fault I should have known better .
I will not name the restaurant yet , but it is in the Philadelphia vicinity .
I want to see what they say and will re-post , their reply !
My buddy said he was happy I did not puke in his new car ! Flynn

16 Bobbi March 11, 2014 at 8:47 pm

We ate at a local restaurant tonight because they have a lobster special every Tuesday night. When my lobster tail was served I started cutting it up and made the mistake of eating one bite before I smelled a strong ammonia smell. It turned out to be the lobster. I informed our waiter who in turn told the restaurant manager. We did not have to pay for our dinners, but next time special or not, I will never get the lobster there again.

When I got home I called Poison Control to find out why the ammonia smell from the lobster. They said the lobster disintegrating and could cause food poisoning if eaten. Thank goodness I only had one bite. I would advise anyone eating lobster to smell it before you eat it. The life you save may be your own.

17 David Fischer July 25, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Just finished a great dinner of frozen lobster claws from Costco. 19 bucks fed three generously with a very tasty lobster salad in hot dog rolls. Claws are cooked, so you need only defrost. These are BIG claws, probably from 4-5 pounders, but very sweet. I would give them an 8 on a scale of 1-10′ ten being live and steamed. But quite a good deal on value. They had none of the grainy quality often found in frozen seafood,

18 Randall Richnow August 11, 2014 at 4:52 am

My daughters and I ate some lobster purchased from Alberston’s and kept in the freezer until cooking. I baked them as I had read online 1.5 minutes per ounce at 400 degrees. However, when we started eating them, they had a pungent ammonia smell to them. They tasted great but smelled awful. My 11 and 12 year old daughter had already eaten one of the two on our plates when they decided not to eat any more and stick to the chicken legs I had also prepared along with some vegetables. I ate mine and some of theirs. Fortunately we did not get sick, especially now that I’ve read these posts. I’ll never buy frozen lobster again. I’d never heard about lobster smelling like ammonia when it’s been dead too long before being frozen but I think it should make more news than NONE about that. Sure would be helpful.

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