Shrimp snack safe despite glow

Vickie Wilson isn’t glowing. Nor is she worrying.

On Wednesday the Everett woman ate a batch of shrimp she bought from a local grocery store the day before. Later that evening she heard on the news that several people around the Puget Sound region had bought shrimp that glow in the dark.

“(My husband) asked me: ‘how was your shrimp last night’ and then he laughed,” Wilson said. “I was like ‘those people live in Seattle, I don’t have glowing shrimp.’”

Then she realized the she hadn’t eaten ALL of her shrimp.

She had three left.

“That’s when I decided to look,” Wilson said. “I took it to the back of my hallway where it’s dark. It did glow.”

She said she never got sick and that she’s not worried.

“It sounds like it’s a real common occurrence,” Wilson said. “If there was a real problem, the (Food and Drug Administration) would be right in the middle of it.”

Wilson said the shrimp she bought weren’t the best that she’s ever eaten, but that the Top Foods that she goes to always treats her right.

“I’ve never gotten sick on any of the food I’ve eaten from Top Foods,” she said. “The only reason I found out my shrimp had been glowing was because of the news coverage on it.”

Contacted late in the day Friday, a spokeswoman for Haggens Inc., the Bellingham-based company that owns Top Foods, said she didn’t have much information on the glowing shrimp report.

“If somebody bought shrimp, and they read this story about it, and they are uncomfortable, we are happy take back that product,” said Becky Skaggs, a spokeswoman for Haggen Inc. “It appears to be a natural phenomena that’s not threatening in any way.”

Bioluminescence emitted by some seafood, including shrimp, is natural and not dangerous, according to the FDA.

“These seafood products exhibited luminescence due to the presence of certain bacteria that are capable of emitting light,” the FDA stated in a 1998 report. “Luminescence by bacteria is due to a chemical reaction catalyzed by luciferase, a protein similar to that found in fireflies.”

The midsize shrimp Wilson ate were pre-cooked and thawed.

For the record, she ate them as a snack with a homemade dip of mayonnaise and mustard.

Wilson is not shying away from the tasty crustaceans at all “because I love shrimp,” she said. “Who knows, I might be able to eat enough to make my stomach glow.”

Reporter Lukas Velush: 425-339-3449 or

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