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Fedexed, other illegal hairy crabs to be destroyed

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taipei customs yesterday confiscated three kilograms of hairy crabs illegally imported from China in an express package and will destroy the imports in accordance with the law, according to Cheng Hui-wen, director of the Bureau of Food Sanitation (BFS) under the Cabinet-level Department of Health.

The package, imported under the name of “plastic products,” bears a product origin of “Yang Cheng Lake,” the exact production base of the famous Dazha crabs that are much sought-after by local gourmets, Cheng said.

Cheng continued the illegally imported hairy crabs will be destroyed immediately, as they have yet to undergo any inspection and quarantine procedures and may seriously undermine the health of consumers.

She urged nationals not to illegally deliver Dazha hairy crabs from China via postal or courier services, as such crabs may contain the banned antibiotic nitrofuran, which is detrimental to human health.

Last year’s Chinese hairy crab season was marred by BFS tests showing that some crabs contained the said cancer-causing substance, forcing the DOH to tighten inspections on imports of hairy crabs from China, and ban inbound tourists from bringing in Dazha hairy crabs.

The DOH has come up with a set of 16 inspection criteria for Yang Cheng Lake hairy crabs from China, which are tighter than the existing World Trade Organization (WTO) inspection standards adopted by Chinese quarantine authorities.

Accordingly, DOH officials said that there has not yet been any applications from crab importers seeking to bring crabs into Taiwan, although the brief hairy crab season has already begun.

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.

Meanwhile, in order to prevent Chinese hairy crabs from being smuggled into the island, the Cabinet-level Coast Guard Administration will step up its patrol operations and will ruin any and all smuggled agricultural and fishery products to better secure food sanitation for local consumers.

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