Beware This Hairy Crab Season: 99% of Yangcheng Crabs Are Fake

Charles Liu , January 24, 2015 3:33pm (updated)

hairy crabFoodies in China can now add the famous Lake Yangcheng hairy crab to the long list of faked food items on sale in the country. For every 300 Lake Yangcheng hairy crabs that are sold, only one is authentic.

The distinguishing characteristics of a hairy crab include a green shell, pale belly, golden hairs and claws. However, counterfeiters now use chemicals to give makeovers to normal crabs to resemble the prized Yangcheng ones. When plastic authentication rings were added to distinguish fakes from the real deal, wily counterfeiters simply copied the rings.

plastic authenticating ring hairy crabThe report coincides with the arrival of hairy crab season in Shanghai, where it is a local delicacy. While it’s a shame that some consumers may never come to savor a true Lake Yangcheng hairy crab, retailers selling the authentic product find themselves being squeezed out by counterfeiters.

Fu Zecheng, chairman of the Jiangsu Lake Yangcheng Hairy Crab Marketing Co, complains that counterfeiters have successfully copied every method marketers have used to authenticate their crabs. Fu is considering adding a second authentication ring but he questions how well it will work, “How can you prove to consumers that what you are selling is the real deal?” said Fu.

plastic authenticating ring hairy crab

Crab isn’t the only fake menu item being sold to consumers. A recent report revealed that many restaurants in China are passing off beef skewers as lamb to consumers who can’t tell the difference. While the report initially came to light last summer, a university student gave the story new traction last month after determining through DNA tests that only 20 percent of lamb skewers are actually lamb.

Whether crab or otherwise, it would appear that as long as there is a dollar to be made counterfeiting goods, there will be counterfeiters willing to do it.

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Photos: iFeng, CCTV, KS News

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor