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What Not To Eat In Jamaica?
6 Tips When Dining In Jamaica

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spiny_lobster.jpgWhat Not To Eat In Jamaica? | Spiny Lobster

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

One thing that has placed Jamaica on the map is our local culture and cuisine. Dishes such as our national dish, ackee and saltfish, jerk chicken, curried goat, mannish water and many others, have made Jamaicaโ€™s cuisine one of the most looked forward to things about a trip to the island.
And even without ever visiting, it is enjoyed by many all over the globe through the many Jamaican or Caribbean restaurants located there.

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There are not many things that I would tell a person not to try on their visit to Jamaica when it comes to food. I probably could come up with a list of 15 dishes off the top of my head that every visitor must try but on this list of what not to eat in Jamaica, there are only five items.

Wild Fruits and Berries

Jamaica has many wild fruits and berries. Just walking along a random street side, garden, park, anywhere really and you might spot a small plant or two with tiny purple, black or even red berries at times. These are not edible berries and can cause severe reactions.

One such fruit that is quite popular and considered edible at one point is the susumba. Jamaicans have been warned not to consume susumber berries, also known as "susumba" or "gully beans," that are undeveloped or abnormal because they may be dangerous and even lethal.

The ingestion of various species has resulted in occasional occurrences of susumber poisoning over the past five years in Jamaica. Jamaican susumber poisoning was first recognized here in the nineteenth century.

Imported Seafood

If you are a seafood lover or a strict pescatarian you might visit the island with the hopes of enjoying a seafood-only diet. Of course, this is possible as Jamaica has many fishing villages that supply various markets and restaurants with seafood.

However many restaurants import their seafood, for various reasons, for some it is more cost-effective, and for others, itโ€™s because they simply cannot find the supply in the quantity they desire, here in Jamaica. Imported seafood leaves you at a higher risk of food poisoning, they are not as tasty and do impact the overall outcome of the dish.


The Caribbean spiny lobster is the variety of lobster you are most likely to find on your plate in Jamaica. Some claim that this variety of lobster tastes fishier than Maine lobster. They resemble enormous crayfish the most and lack the Maine lobster's big claws.

Additionally, the meat of Caribbean spiny lobsters is a little firmer. Jamaica's annual lobster season lasts from July until March. The lobsters are allowed to reproduce and repopulate during the closed season, which runs from April 1 through June 30.

It is prohibited to fish for lobster during the closed season, and it is also against the law to retain live lobsters in any container.

Jerk Chicken at fine dining restaurants

Jerk chicken is great! It is one of the main dishes that have put Jamaica on the international scene and is one of the first dishes many visitors want to try as soon as they land. You will find it on the menu at most restaurants.

Most fine dining restaurants however do not prepare their jerk chicken using traditional methods, the most important one being the charcoal grill, with the pimento branches. Instead, most prepare theirs in the oven or by using electric grills and regardless of how good it tastes, it will never taste the same as authentic traditional jerk chicken.

For the best experience, get your jerk chicken from popular jerk huts such as Scotchies in Montego Bay, Ultimate Jerk Centre in Discovery Bay, Kingston jerk shacks or Boston Jerk in Portland.


jamaican_fried_dumplings_with_ackeeAckee and Saltfish with Fried Dumplings

Now we arenโ€™t saying eat Ackee in Jamaica, not only is it our national fruit, but it is also a key ingredient in one of our most famous dishes. But as you would probably have known by now, ackee, if unripe or unopened, can be very poisonous.

In Jamaica, the ackee is in season between January to March and from June to August. These are the best times to purchase ackee dishes and avoid the effects of being served unripe ackee, it is believed that some vendors will pry open unripe ackee from their pods to fulfil sales. Also, never attempt to eat ackee raw either.

If you are looking for some dishes that you absolutely must try though, click here.

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References & Sources For What Not to Eat In Jamaica?

  1. Deadly Susumber - experts warn public to be wary of consuming 'gully beans' (2019) Deadly susumber - Experts warn public to be wary of consuming 'gully beans' | Lead Stories | Jamaica Gleaner. Available at: (Accessed: November 3, 2022).
  2. Morrow, K. (2022) When is the lobster season in Jamaica?: Beaches, Here Comes The Sun - The Official Beaches Resorts Travel & Lifestyle Blog. Here Comes The Sun - The Official Beaches Resorts Travel & Lifestyle Blog. Available at:,chance%20to%20breed%20and%20repopulate (Accessed: November 3, 2022).

What Not To Eat In Jamaica? | Written: October 28, 2022

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