Chinese hairy crabs unavailable for gourmets by Moon Festival

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Local consumers are unlikely to enjoy delicious hairy crabs from China, also known as Dazha crabs, during the Moon Festival on Sept. 25, as Chinese inspection and quarantine authorities have declined to issue a green light for the exports of such crabs to Taiwan, according to importers of such crabs.

The importers said that the Chinese inspection and quarantine authorities are discontented with tighter inspection standards set by Taiwan’s Department of Health, and has decided not to allow exports of hairy crabs to the island before both sides reach an agreement on relevant inspection standards. The DOH has come up with a set of 16 inspection criteria for the Yang Cheng Lake hairy crabs from China, which are tighter than the existing World Trade Organization (WTO) inspection standards adopted by Chinese quarantine authorities. Officials with the Bureau of Food Sanitation (BFS) under the DOH said that inspection standards on the said hairy crabs, have been stiffened after known carcinogens were found in crabs imported from China last year.

Accordingly, the officials said that there has not yet any applications from crab importers seeking to bring crabs into the island although the brief hairy crab season has already started. They said the sticking point for importers seems to be the new BFS requirement that an animal health certificate from Chinese quarantine authorities must accompany every crab shipment.

Until the Chinese authorities issue the certificates, vendors cannot submit their import applications, the officials continued.

A local importer said that he has ordered 100 metric tons of hairy crabs from China, and may stand to suffer a loss of NT$50 million due to the Chinese quarantine authorities declining to issue the export permits.

The Chinese hairy crab, much-sought after by gourmets, is only available in September and October. Although Taiwan also produces its own hairy crabs, the best crabs are said to come from the Yang Cheng Lake in China. However, last year’s Chinese hairy crab season was marred by BFS tests showing that some crabs contained the banned antibiotic nitrofuran, a suspected carcinogen.