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Lobster: Main Image

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Buying Tips

Picking quality lobster is easy. Fresh-cooked lobster smells fresh, with no hint of ammonia odor. The freshest lobsters are alive and frisky; their tails curl up or flap rather than hang down when they are picked up. Ask how long the lobster has been in the tank and choose those that have been there less than a week. Discard any lobster that dies before you cook it. Fresh-cooked lobster has a bright red shell. Any exposed meat should be white and moist, not dried out or yellow.


American or European clawed lobsters are the classic lobster, with large, meaty claws. They are available live or as frozen lobster tails. You can also buy “culls”—lobsters missing one claw. Spiny lobsters have hard, rough shells, very long antennae, and no claws. Though there are many varieties of spiny lobster, most are sold under the name warm water lobster (from Florida, Southern California, or Hawaii) or cold water lobster (from Australia or New Zealand). They can usually be bought as frozen, uncooked tails. Smaller lobsters (scampi, langostino, slipper) are usually available only in restaurants.

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

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