Irish brown crab exports to China squeezed by new testing regime

Published on
September 28, 2020

Ireland’s lucrative crab export trade with China has slowed due to cadmium testing demanded by Chinese authorities.

The extra time involved in testing and waiting on results for export paperwork has made live shipments to China an increasingly difficult proposition for Irish exporters, according to Ireland’s Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA).

Some volumes are getting through, according to an SFPA statement to SeafoodSource, which noted a testing regime “as requested by Chinese import control authorities, has been in place since December 2019.”

“An export health certification regulatory regime, based on satisfactory laboratory results from per-consignment testing, has been designed to verify compliance with Chinese standards,” it said. “Consignments of Irish brown crab that comply with Chinese regulatory standards have been certified by SFPA and some of those have been exported from Ireland during 2020.” 

The complications with Chinese Customs follows several instances of European crabs being barred from the Chinese market in the past year due to excessive levels of cadmium, a naturally occurring element in sea caught seafood.

According to Alex Crowley, head of the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association, the testing has been a help for some Irish product, but exporters of live crab are complaining the tests just don’t work for them.

“But my understanding is that delays in testing, waiting for results pre-consignment, etcetera, makes it impractical for live product, as it can knock a week or more off the shelf-life,” he told SeafoodSource. “It has worked better for processed product.”

Excessive traces of cadmium have been found by inspectors from China Food & Drug Administration (CFDA), which regularly tests seafood at retail outlets and restaurants. Excessive cadmium traces are a “major problem” in testing conducted by the CFDA in Beijing and Tianjin as well as in Xiamen in the south, according to a CFDA report issued in 2018. That report resulted in imported crustaceans being removed from supermarket stores in Beijing.

The agency encourages consumers to phone in complaints on food products or vendors to a hotline.

Photo courtesy of Zeeking/Shutterstock

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500