Bathed, not bred: Vendors warn of fake Yangcheng Lake crabs

Bathed, not bred: Vendors warn of fake Yangcheng Lake crabs

Staff Reporter 

2013-09-18

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Mitten crabs — known locally as hairy crabs — are a seasonal delicacy in China especially around the time of the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls this year on Sept. 19. The area most famous for producing the crabs is Yangcheng Lake, to the northeast of Suzhou in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, and the name is sufficiently well known for some vendors to try to pass crabs bred elsewhere as genuine Yangcheng Lake produce, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily. More than 2,000 households are estimated to make a living selling Yangcheng Lake crabs, producing about 2,000 tonnes of the crustaceans a year. Genuine Yangcheng Lake crabs will go on sale from Sept. 17 this year, which means crabs which have gone on sale so far claiming to be from the area are not so, according to an association officially approved to oversee the trade in crabs from Suzhou. The crabs that have gone on sale so far are from outside the area, say Yangcheng Lake crab farmers, who say unscrupulous vendors raise their crabs elsewhere before taking them to the lake for a dip in the water before selling them at a higher price than they would otherwise fetch. This year’s harvest of Yangcheng Lake crabs is estimated to be down by about 20% this year due to hot weather, creating higher prices for a more limited supply. Customers who are buying their crabs at a cheaper price are likely to be buying specimens which have only “taken a bath” in the lake, local breeders said.

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