Hong Kong, it seems, just can’t catch a break from bad crabs.
On Monday, the territory’s Centre for Food Safety found unsafe levels of potentially deadly chemicals in hairy crabs imported from Taiwan, reported the South China Morning Post on October 16.
This comes after high amounts of the same chemicals were found in crabs from Jiangsu province in November 2016. Mainland authorities banned their export after the incident, which forced Hong Kong suppliers to turn to other sources such as Taiwan and Japan.
In a recent test of 12 samples by the center, one crab from Taoyuan in Taiwan containing high levels of dioxin and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls. While these chemicals are naturally occurring, overexposure can cause cancer and damage the reproductive and immune systems.
The other 11 samples, which came from Hokkaido in Japan, Taichung in Taiwan, and Mainland China, were found to be safe. The crabs from the mainland, however, potentially contravened China’s export ban.
According to Hong Kong sellers, crabs from from Lake Tai and Yangcheng in Jiangsu province taste the best and have the most roe. The quality of crabs from Taiwan aren’t consistent, and the ones from Japan have less roe. They’re also more expensive than the ones from the mainland.
While the latest batch of tested hairy crabs did not reach the market, it’s another blow to suppliers and restaurants in Hong Kong. As a result, many local eateries are leaving them off their the menu this high season, which runs from late September to mid-November.