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Food Safety Focus (123rd Issue, October 2016) – Food Incident Highlight

Toxins in Crayfish Causing Rhabdomyolysis

Recently, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health reported two cases of rhabdomyolysis after consuming cooked crayfish in Shenzhen. Rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of skeletal muscle fibres) may result in kidney damage and other complications.

Rhabdomyolysis linked to consumption of red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) has been reported in Mainland China and the United States. The possible cause is an unknown heat-stable toxin that accumulated in the crayfish.

Traders are advised to: 1) buy live crayfish from aquaculture farms that are regulated by the relevant authorities and reputable exporters; 2) purchase crayfish products from processing plants that have adopted HACCP (or equivalent food safety management systems); and 3) ensure the food sold/ imported are fit for human consumption. Consumers are advised to: 1) clean crayfish before cooking and cook thoroughly; 2) purchase fresh crayfish from reputable and reliable suppliers; and 3) not overindulge in crayfish and not consume its head and internal organs.