A batch of hairy crabs imported from China has been found to contain traces of leuco-malachite green, a banned dye used as an antibiotic in aquaculture, and the Department of Health has ordered the 2 tonne shipment be destroyed.
The head of the department’s Food and Drug Administration District Center, Pan Chih-kuan (潘志寬), said testing showed levels of leuco-malachite at 4 parts per billion for the batch of crabs.
As the department has a zero-tolerance policy on leuco-malachite green under its standards for veterinary drug residue limits in foodstuffs, the shipment violated the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) and the items must be destroyed or returned.
The import of Chinese hairy crabs, also called mitten crabs or Dazha crabs (大閘蟹), was allowed to start again this year after being suspended for the past six years.
Department officials said they are keeping a close eye on imports by testing all shipments. Up to this week there have been 124 shipments totaling 31,000kg.
Among the shipments, two batches with a combined weight of 3,000kg contained residues of leuco-malachite green, and Enrofloxacin — another antibiotic substance.
They were stopped at ports and destroyed or returned.
Lin Chieh-liang (林杰樑), director of the Department of Toxicology at Linkuo Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said leuco-malachite green is a dye used in industry, but is often misused in food and animal products as an antibiotic.
Lin said it has found to be potentially carcinogenic in animals, and clinical testing has shown it can damage the liver and kidneys and may lead to a higher risk of fetus deformation.