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Food Safety Focus (52nd Issue, November 2010) – Food Incident Highlight

Oxalic Acid in Crab Wash ?!

Last month, the media reported that some unscrupulous traders in Mainland China used oxalic acid to wash crabs to make them look like hairy crabs. The Centre for Food Safety immediately conducted testing for oxalic acid on hairy crab samples from the market. Thirteen samples were tested. The results were all satisfactory.

Consumption of food containing high levels of oxalic acid can cause food poisoning. Symptoms of stomach irritation, lowered calcium levels, adverse effects to the nervous system and kidney can occur.

Oxalic acid should not be added to crabs. Traders should import hairy crabs with health certificates from registered farms, source them from reliable suppliers and keep them properly in the refrigerator for sale. Consumers are advised to patronise reliable and hygienic shops and buy live hairy crabs with intact, shiny shells without a foul smell. To enjoy this seasonal delicacy, always clean and cook them thoroughly and remember not to overindulge in this cholesterol-rich food.