Autumn is the season for hairy crabs. To ensure food safety, we should pay attention to the 5 Keys to Food Safety while enjoying this seasonal food.
First, choose. We should purchase hairy crabs from reliable and hygienic shops. During purchase, check whether the hairy crabs for sale are kept in a refrigerator and buy live crabs with intact, shiny shells and no stink. As hairy crabs are very nutritious for bacteria, they will multiply rapidly in dead crabs. Thus, do not buy dead hairy crabs for they are highly perishable.
Second, clean. Before cooking hairy crabs, clean the shell, legs and claws thoroughly with a brush and water and remove the mud from the shell. Cleaned hairy crabs, if not for immediate cooking and consumption, should be placed in a clean container with cover and stored in a refrigerator. Keep our hands clean and use clean utensils when cooking. Also, wash our hands thoroughly with soapy water and remove the internal organs of hairy crabs before consumption.
Third, separate. If hairy crabs are not for immediate cooking and consumption, they should be placed in a clean container with cover. To avoid cross-contamination, store crabs in the lower compartment of a refrigerator while keeping other cooked food in the upper compartment.
Fourth, cook thoroughly and this is the most important key. Hairy crabs may harbour parasites and bacteria, therefore we should cook them thoroughly before eating. In order to make sure that every part of a crab is thoroughly cooked, do not steam too many hairy crabs at a time or stack them up during cooking. Condiments such as salt, vinegar, wine and wasabi cannot kill bacteria or parasites in crabs. Remember that only thoroughly cooked hairy crabs are safe for consumption.
Lastly, safe temperature. Cooked hairy crabs should be consumed as soon as possible and should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. Leftover cooked crabs should be kept at 4oC or below and reheated thoroughly before consumption.
Beside food safety, don't forget the need to maintain a balanced diet while enjoying this festive food. People with chronic diseases must avoid overindulging in hairy crabs, especially cholesterol-rich roes.