Crayfish cleaning powder a hazard
May 21,2009
Industry Updates

A powder used to clean crayfish may instead end up keeping Shanghai's "crayfish street" clean of customers.

The city's food and drug administration started a citywide inspection on May 20 on a powder used for washing crayfish after it was found to contain potentially hazardous ingredients.

"The powder reminds me of the recent toxic baby formula scandal," said Peng Jie, a crayfish lover and frequent visitor to Shouning Road, known as the city's "crayfish street".

The potential hazard from eating her favorite food has already deterred her from having more.

"My parents have also asked me to stop eating it, at least for the moment. I think I won't eat it until the authorities come up with verified conclusions."

The powder is made from citric acid and sulfite - which apart from washing crayfish are used as food addictives - together with other "unidentified ingredients."

The powder, effective in quickly washing dirt and filth off crayfish, also goes against national regulations on food additives since it fails to print the product name, manufacturing source and list of ingredients on its package. It was banned on May 20.

The food administration performed a citywide inspection covering all seafood markets as well as restaurants selling crayfish. Authorities also vowed to destroy all the powder they discovered.

"I think only those very dirty crayfish captured from ditches or highly polluted rivers would perhaps need to be washed with additional washing powder," said a restaurant owner surnamed Lu.

"Most of the crayfish sold here are artificial breeds raised in lakes, which are very clean and only need to be washed with tap water," he said.

But he also expressed concern over his business since consumers "may get scared and no one will eat crayfish if the situation worsens".

"So if the product does have dangerous ingredients, I hope the authorities will soon find a way to stop it," he said.

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