Why is My Crab Black Inside? Causes and Safety Tips

We have caught many CA brown crabs before but never had this happen. As we have done before, the crabs were kept in the cooler for 24 hours with a wet towel over them. Just as I washed them in the sink before putting them in the boil, one of them let out a nasty black liquid. I washed it off and he seemed ok. The all got cooked and they were put in the fridge for another 24 hours to be picked. While we were picking them many of them now hove this black liquid in the meat. All of the crabs were thrown away, but what is the black liquid, and is it safe to eat? We looked for an answer for you for an hour and a half, but we couldn’t find one! We have never had a “black liquid discharge” like you describe with your brown crab. With this said, Meg, we do have a couple suggestions for you. One way is to ask the fishmonger in your area, or you can go to this website from California. CA Department of Fish and Game: They might be able to explain what the black liquid discharge is all about. Hopefully youll get a quick reply and an accepting answer to this. We think you were smart to get rid of the brown crabs. You can never be too careful. Either something is going on down there in the water, or you’re throwing out good crab. Either way, thanks for trusting us to find out. We’re sorry, but we don’t have one. If you find it, please come back and tell us what they said. if you dont mind!?.

As a crab lover, nothing is more disappointing than cracking open a beautiful red crab only to find black discoloration inside The sight of blackened meat where you expect pristine white crab is alarming But what causes this blackening and is the crab still safe to eat?

In this article, I’ll cover the common reasons you may encounter black spots or discoloration in crab meat and shells. I’ll also provide tips to determine if the darkened crab is spoiled and unsafe or still edible.

What Causes Black Spots and Discoloration in Crab?

There are a few possible explanations for black spots and darkened meat or shells in crab:

  • Bruising – Just like us crabs can experience bruising and bleeding under their hard outer shells when injured. This causes darker patches or spots.

  • Dead Blood Vessels – Blood vessels that died before the crab was cooked can leave behind blackened areas on the meat.

  • Melanin Pigments – Some crabs naturally have darker pigmentation in their shells or meat. Melanin causes black spotting.

  • Enzymatic Oxidation – Enzymes in the crab tissue can cause oxidation that blackens the meat, especially in dead or older crabs.

  • Mold – Mold growth will look fuzzy but can also cause black spots.

How to Tell if Black Spots Mean the Crab is Spoiled

I recommend using these tips to determine if black discoloration means the crab has gone bad:

  • Examine the texture – If the meat is mushy, sticky, or slimy, toss it out. Good crab meat will still have a firm, meaty texture.

  • Give it a sniff – Does it have a strong, fishy odor, or smell rotten or ammonia-like? Foul odors mean it’s spoiled.

  • Check for fuzzy mold – Mold will look fuzzy versus just spots. This is a definite sign of spoilage.

  • Consider the source – Was it sold live or cooked fresh? Or was it previously frozen or of questionable origin? That raises the risk it’s bad.

  • When in doubt, throw it out! – Don’t risk eating any crab that seems smelly or rotten.

Is Crab With Black Spots Safe to Eat?

If the black spots are limited to the shell and legs, the crab is almost always still safe to eat. The shell and legs are not eaten, so dark spots there are harmless.

For the meat, use your judgment. Small black dots or pigmented regions are likely from bruising or melanin and fine. But large black areas, especially with other signs of spoilage like odor and texture, should be avoided.

When crabs are very fresh, like ones you catch yourself, you can be more confident that black spots are harmless. But take extra precautions with store-bought crab, as blackness is more concerning.

Overall, localized black spots don’t necessarily make crab unsafe. But if multiple signs of spoilage are present, discard the crab to be safe. Trust your senses – if it seems funky, don’t eat it!

Tips to Avoid Buying or Cooking Spoiled Crab

To decrease your chances of winding up with spoiled blackened crab meat, here are some handy tips:

  • For live crab, ensure they are active and healthy looking when purchasing. Weak or lethargic crabs may be sick.

  • Cook crab the same day as purchasing for best freshness and quality. Don’t let live crabs or raw meat sit for days before cooking.

  • Store live crabs in a breathable container in your refrigerator. Don’t trap them in air-tight plastic.

  • When boiling crabs yourself, make sure the water comes back up to a rolling boil after adding them. This kills bacteria.

  • Refrigerate cooked crab meat within 2 hours of cooking. Store in a container with tight fitting lid.

  • Use cooked crab meat within 3-4 days for best flavor and to avoid spoilage. Don’t leave it sitting for a week.

  • Purchase pasteurized crab meat from reputable brands if not cooking your own. Avoid generic or questionable sources.

Following these guidelines will help avoid ending up with a cracked open crab that looks black and rotten! Take steps to keep crab fresh and use common sense when cooking and storing it.

What to Remember About Black Spots in Crab

Seeing black discoloration in your crab can be alarming but it doesn’t necessarily mean the crab has gone bad. Small black spots are common even in very fresh crab. However, rotten, fishy odor and mushy texture in addition to blackness likely means spoilage. Use your best judgment, and when in doubt, throw it out to be safe. With a few careful storage and handling practices, you can avoid winding up with spoiled crab meat.

why is my crab black inside

Crab Legs and Black Spots?

by Destiny (El Paso )

My crab leg had black dots on them and when i poked it. it was a dead worm. Will i get sick?This is something I have never seen before. I HAVE seen black spots on the legs of Dungeness crabs, King crabs, and even Snow crabs before. These spots are probably what we call “war wounds” or the result of the crabs naturally rubbing up against each other. I have never had an incident where a worm, live or dead was involved. Personally I would not eat it. Will you get sick? I dont know. But when Enjoy!-ing crab of any kind. no worm would be going into my mouth!.

discolored (brown) snow crab shell

Snow crab is usually bright orange. I have seen brown speckles or mostly brown shells and even sometime black spots (by the knuckle). What makes the meat of a crab look different after it’s been cooked? Why does the species, where it comes from, or how it was caught matter? Not sure why theres discoloring on brown snow crab shells. Could be a number of possible factors and a mix of all the above. species, where they come from, how they were caught, and if they have any natural colors in the shell that don’t show until they’re cooked. That being said, blue crab, dungeness, snow, and king crab shells will all turn a different color after being boiled.

Poor crab escaped from a boiling dish


How do you know when crab is spoiled?

Raw crab meat that you have bought at the store or you have harvested yourself and has been in the fridge can spoil quickly. Crab meat should smell a bit sweet; if it has a strong, fishy, sour odor––it’s time to toss it. The shelf-life in a fridge is 3 to 5 days and in the freezer is 6 to 9 months.

Is it safe to eat crab with black spot disease?

This means the crab was likely responding to some shell damage that could be caused by physical trauma or a disease agent. In this case, the black spotted crab is probably safe if cooked correctly.

Is black crab good to eat?

They are captured alive and kept in containers, then the next day they are boiled in hot water before being processed. The black crab is typical of the local cuisine. These crustaceans are not just a source of income, but are also eaten by the families as part of their everyday diet.

What causes blackening of crab meat?

BLACKENING may occur in canned crabmeat from the com- bination of volatile sulfide compounds, such as hydrogen sul- fide, evolved from the meat during processing, and ferrous ions dissolved from the can to form black ferrous sulfide (Okuda and Matsui, 1916; Fellers and Parks, 1926; Oshima, 1931).

Why is my crab meat turning black?

Crab meat that has turned a shade of green or black is unsafe to eat. It’s a common sign of crab meat being undercooked and going bad. An enzyme that’s usually cooked out of the crab meat can caused undercooked crab meat to change color if it sits out long enough. This is most common when there is a delay between cooking and eating the crab meat.

Why does crab meat change color when cooked?

It’s a common sign of crab meat being undercooked and going bad. An enzyme that’s usually cooked out of the crab meat can caused undercooked crab meat to change color if it sits out long enough. This is most common when there is a delay between cooking and eating the crab meat. It’s also a sign that your cooking process is flawed.

Can you eat crab meat with black spots on it?

This is caused by a flatworm called Microphallus bassodactylus, and cooking the crab kills this parasite. Eating crab meat with black spots on it is safe. However, you may notice that the meat has discolored (meaning that it has turned any color other than white). In that case, this indicates the meat is no longer fresh.

What does bad crab meat look like?

If someone serves you crabs or you begin to clean crabs and you notice a dark or black discoloration where the meat should be, then chances are high that the meat has gone bad. This is what bad crab meat may look like: Note the black discoloration Whenever you see this, do not take a chance on eating it.

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