Thursday, June 27, 2013

Does this taste a little toxic to you?

You can't taste all contaminants in your food, so how do you know the crab you're eating is safe? The following question was asked during the last crab chat:

Is crab meat tested for contaminants before going to market?

The short answer: yes, somewhat. Alaskan seafood is generally free of contaminants (as is seafood from the rest of the country, according to "government tests") and the Alaska Seafood company follows FDA's Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulation program. Hooray for Alaskan crabs!

enjoying fresh contaminant-free Alaskan Dungeness crab

HOWEVER, when it comes to imported seafood, we can't be too sure how safe it is. We import a lot (which is surprising to me with all the 'merican seafood we have here), but only about 2% of it is tested by the FDA. Of that seafood tested, 8% of imports from China and 16% of imports from Taiwan were contaminated in 2010. Does that mean you shouldn't eat imported seafood? No. But I would choose wisely about what kind of fish, shrimp, or crab I buy with the help of Blue Ocean Institute's seafood guide.

screenshot of the Blue Ocean Institute online guide

All the focus shouldn't only be overseas. Like I said, domestic fisheries are pretty clean, but the FDA does routine inspections that sometimes result in processing plant clean-ups and food recalls. Those inspections include testing the meat but also looking at facility cleanliness, meat handling, and processing techniques.

inspecting some king crab legs!

So, the longer answer: yes, domestic crab meat and a small percentage of imported crab meat is tested before going to market.

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