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Shanghai Probes Taiwan Reports of Hairy Crabs
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Shanghai's food and drug administration inspected hairy crabs on sale in several markets around the city yesterday in response to reports authorities in Taiwan detected a carcinogen in crabs from Yangcheng Lake.

The results of the examinations will be announced within this week.

The Suzhou Yangcheng Lake Hairy Crab Association expressed doubts about the Taiwan test results and insisted hairy crabs bred in the lake are safe to eat.

Officials in Taiwan said a batch of more than 600 kilograms of hairy crabs from the famed lake in Jiangsu Province bearing the Shuizhongxian brandname were found on October 17 to contain AOZ, an antibiotic that has been linked to cancer.

The hairy crabs were exported to the island province by Kunshan Aquatic Product Co Ltd in Jiangsu.

Officials from the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration said they check the levels of antibiotics in hairy crabs every year and haven't found any problems this year.

Passed tests

The Kunshan City government and the hairy crab association are also investigating the situation.

Yang Weilong, director of the association, said the problem batch of hairy crabs were exported to Taiwan in September after passing tests conducted by the Kunshan Exit-Entry Inspection and Quarantine Bureau. They also received quality certificates from authorities in Taiwan.

"I can't understand why the hairy crabs were said to contain a carcinogen a month later," Yang said. "Every batch of hairy crabs will be tested for antibiotic residue before being exported and we have strict requirements on the crab binding and packing." 
He said each hairy crab bred in Yangcheng Lake should undergo at least three tests. The tests guarantee no forbidden medicines or hormones are used in breeding and the hairy crabs meet state standards.

"The lake water also has good quality. I feel it's odd as I believe genuine Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs won't have problems," Yang said.

He suspected some competitor may have tampered with the crabs to defame the brand or the problem hairy crabs were fake Yangcheng Lake crabs.

Many reports of counterfeit Yangcheng Lake crabs have been raised in recent years, as crustaceans from the famed lake are considered the best in China and sell for a higher price than crabs from other parts of the country.

A Yangcheng Lake crab dealer said the problem must have occurred at the retail level as it is impossible for crab farmers to use antibiotics in breeding.

Some retailers use antibiotics to make the crab shells look shinier before selling them, said Wu Shujuan, a manager at Jinhai Corp, the only local company dealing with Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs. She said the Taiwan report hasn't had any effect on crab sales in the city so far.

Hairy crabs are popular from late September until the Spring Festival.

(Shanghai Daily October 20, 2006)

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