Thursday, 3 November 2016

Cancer Isn't just the Horoscope Sign for Crabs

It's now been found hairy crabs might have cancer-causing chemicals in them
We're well into hairy crab season, and only now has the Hong Kong government released test results that show some of the crustaceans from two farms in Jiangsu province have excessive levels of dioxin and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls.

In other words, these hairy crabs contain highly toxic chemical compounds that could cause cancer and damage reproductive and immune systems.

And now Health minister Dr Ko Wing-man says it could take up to two weeks determine if more of these crabs are also not suitable for consumption.

Hairy crabs are bundled up and sold in many shops here
Will this make fans of the crustacean think twice about eating their favourite food this time of year?

Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan says waiting two weeks is pointless because the crabs will have been consumed by then.

These small crabs can be found in food shops behind plastic or glass shelves, wrapped up in dried reeds and kept alive with squirts of water. And many people who love the crustaceans buy them to steam at home, or head to restaurants that serve them.

Wong, who is a former Legislative Council food safety panel member, slammed the Centre for Food Safety for failing to act as a gatekeeper and not adopting a unified food safety protocol with the mainland.

According to industry sources, the mainland food safety standards do not refer to dioxin levels.

Connoisseurs love hairy crab for its roe this time of year
"How could [the government] not realize all these years that there were no tests for dioxins in Jiangsu province?" she asked.

Wong said dioxin testing should be set out in law in Hong Kong on an acceptable level for food.

Currently there is no international consensus on dioxin standards so Hong Kong authorities use the World Health Organization guidelines for reference.

Some distributors are claiming they don't buy crabs from those tested so far, saying they get them from farms that have hygiene certificates. Are these documents even credible?

In any event, I'm luckily one of those people who isn't crazy about hairy crabs. If I eat hairy crabs, I can only eat one, because I lose patience trying to extract all the meat from the small legs, though admittedly the roe is quite amazing, together with aged yellow wine.

I'm very happy eating it once a year and that's it -- but in the meantime Hong Kong has been purchasing food across the border for decades... shouldn't we have established these food safety protocols ages ago???

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