FDA: Glow In The Dark Shrimp "Not A Food Safety Issue"

Seattle shoppers want to know why the FDA won’t investigate bioluminescent shrimp appearing at local Thriftways and Quality Food Centers.

The glowing shrimp have yet to sicken anyone, according to the FDA, and are just as safe as colored ketchup. One Thriftway manager said: “We don’t hear a lot of complaints about glowing seafood, but then people rarely look at their shrimp and crab in the dark.”

However, [the manager] admits that he might “take a peek” at the seafood now and then in a darkened freezer “just in case.”

A caller who identified herself only as Barbara told the Seattle P-I on Monday that she had given some cooked shrimp she bought at the QFC in Wallingford to her three “very large” cats Sunday night as a “birthday treat.”

An hour later, she said, she was frightened at what she found. She saw a greenish-blue glow coming from the cat bowl on the darkened porch. When she turned on the light, she found the six shrimp untouched. Her porky cats, which she said “would eat your leg off if you stood in one place long enough,” didn’t touch them.

She pulled open the refrigerator door. The light bulb had burned out weeks ago, she said, but the plastic bag holding the remaining shrimp glowed brightly in the chilled darkness.

Neither Peters nor Barbara, who also ate some of the shrimp, said they were made ill, just a bit queasy at the idea of consuming the glowing seafood.

Skittish consumers can boil the shrimp to kill off the bioluminescent bacteria phosphoreum that makes their shrimp awesome and creepy.

Glow-in-the-dark shrimp — it’s all a little fishy [Seattle PI via Slashfood]
(Photo: Edith Widder/Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution)


Edit Your Comment

  1. NickRB says:

    Too bad, I don’t own a restaurant. I would specifically buy these shrimp. I imagine they’d be a huge hit, if the customer was expecting it!

  2. DallasDMD says:

    Kids would probably think its a treat.

  3. joebloe says:

    How do I order these online?

  4. azntg says:

    Bioluminescent food, eh? It could indeed be from a bioluminescent bacteria coating the shrimp or the shrimp itself could be a product of genetic modification.

    And, I got a little chuckle after reading the article. Blame Canada~ god, I love that song!

  5. It’s not bacteria or genetic tampering – almost all species of krill are naturally bioluminescent.

    (I’m surprised that the bioluminescence survives in cooked shrimp, though!)

  6. TMurphy says:

    Someone should have been handing these out for Halloween.

  7. Consumer-X says:

    @TMurphy: “Someone should have been handing these out for Halloween.”
    I did. I threw a couple of those suckers right in their bags along with generous dollop of cocktail sauce. I told them they were dead Sea Monkeys who misbehaved and wouldn’t stay off of my lawn. Some of the younger kids cried. But hey, the way I look at it life is tough and the sooner those kids learn that, the better.

  8. Leah says:

    They’re not harmful bacteria. Actually, the majority of bacteria are not harmful. I honestly don’t see why this is a huge deal.

  9. Trauma_Hound says:

    She lives in Seattle like I do and she actually leaves her shrimp in the fridge for weeks? No wonder they glow. Who the hell eats old shrimp here besides her?

  10. faust1200 says:

    If they could infuse the glo-shrimp with MDMA they might really have something. Erm, then again I’m not sure you’d want to be burping up shrimp on the dance floor.

  11. veronykah says:

    I wish Barbara had taken a picture, would be pretty interesting.
    I do like the idea of giving them out for Halloween though…

  12. wring says:

    I want some

  13. cde says:

    DO WANT.

    Seriously, I’m planning on asking my local supermarkets if they can get them.

  14. emona says:

    Inject some of this stuff into oysters just in time for Valentine’s Day. That would be so romantic.

  15. M3wThr33 says:

    Someone’s not cooking their food.

  16. GitEmSteveDave says:

    Was I the only one who thought when the story said “An hour later….” that she was going to report that the litter box was glowing?

    Now THERE would be a great invention. Be great for dog owners at night.

  17. Falconfire says:

    I am shocked this even a story… do people realize how many types of seafood glow because of what they eat?

    Better yet, do people realize that many things have been glowing LONG before people started playing with ways to make them glow.

  18. cde says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: But dogs dont use a litter box :/

  19. DrGirlfriend says:

    I’m kinda snickering at shrimp for cats as a birthday treat.

  20. XTC46 says:

    @Consumer-X: lol do you also sit on your pourch and cure those dammed kids makin’ all that ruckus.

  21. Parting says:

    @cde: Easier to find them in park :)

  22. sciencefreak says:

    hmm agree with the other posted. many krill and other crustaceans and fish glow in the dark…its nothing unnatural, I understand to voice a question, but the FDA has no reason to look into it. In asia they eat jelly fish…and all jellyfish glow….I don’t see what the cause for alarm is.

  23. BigNutty says:

    Looks like a cool product to me. I’m also going to ask my seafood guy at the grocery store if he can get me some.

  24. cde says:

    I like glowing shrimp so much, my user pic is now the glowing shrimp :D

  25. CurbRunner says:

    People tend to think of things that glow as being radio active.
    The seafood glow is a harmless natural bioluminescence: [www.lifesci.ucsb.edu]

    When I was a kid living on various islands in Micronesia (southwest Pacific Ocean), sometimes we would go out past the reef in canoes at night with the natives to go fishing. The bioluminescent wake from the outrigger canoe and trails form the oars most always glowed a beautiful greenish white color as we passed through the water.

  26. MrEvil says:

    I’ve never known cats to eat shrimp. Glowing or otherwise. Dogs on the other hand, if they see YOU eat it, they’ll eat it just about. Odds are the cats just didn’t like the smell. Crazy Cat Lady needs to get a life.

    Now, where can I get some glowing shrimp?

  27. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @MrEvil: The wifes cat “knows” there is shrimp and or lobster,crab and fish the second we pull up to our house. He is in the window meowing. I know he smells it in the house but seriously when the car is 50 ft from the door and its inside plastic bags?

    She feeds him the shrimp legs and carapace and the lobsters legs. Crab bodies with the guts go in his bowl too. He loves LOVES them. I caught him on the counter licking the countertop last night after we had lobster. This was after we cleaned the counter and wiped it down with disenfectant wipes. I don’t trust seafood and raw meat so I always double clean the work space.

  28. Benstein says:

    There would be a market for these to replace those glow sticks used in clubs.

  29. Coyote says:

    Does anyone else think this smells of urban myth? Its a bit odd that she saw them first on the porch in dim lighting and then her refrigerator light was conveniently burned out too. Also I thought store bought shrimp were pre-boiled so all the bioluminescent matter would be killed off long before the customer gets it.