Autumn is the best season for savouring freshwater hairy crabs, when they are at their best with very tasty, tender meat and delectable roe, bringing great enjoyment to crab lovers. In many groceries, supermarkets and restaurants, this seasonal food is showcased prominently to entice customers. Some members of the public find this delicacy irresistable. However, they should not overindulge themselves with this cholesterol-rich cuisine. Hairy crabs may harbour parasites and pathogens. They should be cooked thoroughly before consumption. As regards concerns on chemicals (e.g. veterinary drug residues, synthetic hormones and heavy metals) in hairy crabs, the Centre for Food Safety has been testing hairy crab samples taken at import and retail levels, and the results of which have all been satisfactory in recent years.
The public are advised to note the following food safety tips when buying, preparing or consuming hairy crabs:
- Buy hairy crabs from reliable shops or restaurants.
- Buy live crabs with intact, shiny shells without a foul smell.
- Do not buy dead hairy crabs as they are highly perishable.
- Prepare and consume hairy crabs soon after purchase.
- If not for immediate consumption, wrap and place the crabs properly in a clean utensil and store in the refrigerator to maintain their quality and avoid cross-contamination.
- Brush and wash the shells and claws with water before cooking.
- Cook thoroughly before consumption.
- Maintain a balanced diet and avoid eating too many hairy crabs, particularly the cholesterol-rich roe.
- Avoid eating raw crabs. Condiments such as salt, vinegar, wine and wasabi cannot kill bacteria or parasites that may be present.
- Wash hands with soap and water before consumption.
- Remove the internal organs before eating.