When removing the head from a raw shrimp, I usually expect orangey goo to come out / be visible (the yummy stuff when you suck it of a prepared shrimp, I suppose :) ). I also usually have fresh shrimps. Today however I bought frozen ones, and some of them have green instead of an orangey goo.

The "green ones" all look fresh, and, IME usually more important, smell fresh (taking in to account the defrosted seafood nature of things).

Question is: Are they good to eat? Does this happen "naturally"?

The box in which they came didn't look like frosting-defrosting-re-(re-)frosting happened, and wasn't over the expiry date.

Personally, I think it's due to the diet of the shrimps (I'm close to 100% certain that they're farmed, but I don't have the box anymore), and that it's the color of algae I'm seeing. While removing the digestive tract of the "green ones", they seemed to share the same uranium like hue of green.

For posterity:

Without waiting for an answer, and being the dare devil (and hungry guy) I am, I'm going to move diligently forward. For all those reading this: Should there not be an accepted answer, let it be known not to eat shrimps with green goo coming out when taking of the heads.

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    20 minutes in and counting, and still happily replyiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiifgqreopweirs24w4twwt5wt54ew4w4w4rffffffffffffff Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 18:48
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    I've found this in Japanese Tiger prawns, they were pretty big (maybe 9 inches?) and always seemed to have green goo. I have always removed the goo and eaten the prawn, and had no issues. I never found out why it was green.
    – Ming
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 2:22
  • @setek: They were tiger prawns (and big), but from Bangladesh. And indeed: They were tasty, and the green goo didn't in anyway affect taste or health :) Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 4:33

2 Answers 2


I think what you are seeing may be the hepatopancreas. From a Serious Eats article about shrimp heads:

There could be nothing sweeter and tastier than those shrimp heads. For in their armored shells you will find the hepatopancreas, the digestive organ that in lobsters and crabs would be called tomalley.

Shrimp hepatopancreas tastes like tomalley, only shrimpier, and more liquid-like.

shrimp anatomy diagram

This article on hepatopancreas condition states that the color of the hepatopancreas depends on diet:

hepatopancreas colors and explanations

Regarding shrimp roe (also called coral) and eggs, please see this excerpt about the shrimp life cycle and the picture below.

Eggs develop in the female prior to spawning, and can be seen as a dark band just under the shell on the head. Shortly after mating, eggs are extruded to the underside of the abdomen, where they are fertilized by a packet of sperm previously obtained from the male, then attached to the female's specialized legs. The female carries the developing eggs until they hatch in early spring. Newly hatched shrimp larvae are small (about 3/16 of an inch, or 5mm), planktonic (free floating, unable to swim against currents), and bear only a superficial resemblance to adults.

shrimp roe

See this picture (EMS is Early Mortality Syndrome):

signs of EMS

  • I'll accept this answer. Although I couldn't find any reference or image for green hepatopancreas, we're definitely talking about the hepatopancreas here, and the fact that its color depends on diet concurs with my thoughts and deductions from the color of the digestive tract, which had a similar green hue. Whether this was due to digesting algae or luminescent radioactive material remains to be seen ;) Thanks! Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 15:36
  • And still alive and kicking, btw, nothing to indicate anything bad. Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 15:37
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    Thanks! I am editing to add a picture. After everything I've read, it think diet is the main factor but health, different species of shrimp, and handling could also play a part in the color of the shrimp and the organs. Sounds like yours were very healthy!
    – Cindy
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 15:47
  • They certainly tasted like it nomnom :) Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 16:55

I think it must be the shrimp equivalent of the green lobster roe (or maybe tomalley).

When raw, the roe is greenish, when cooked it turns solid and a bright red/orange.

  • Interesting, it might be equivalent, but then again: In (fresh) raw shrimps, I've never seen it green before. Always a whitey-orangey color both raw and cooked. +1 for the info for lobster roe though, didn't know about that, only prepared one ever so far. Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 19:10
  • The roe of the shrimp sits under its belly, doesn't it?
    – eirikdaude
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 0:01

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