Opinion of BuRO on the risks of consuming meat from the body (brown meat) of the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) for the Dutch consumer

BuRO recommends to the Ministry for Medical Care and Sport (MZS) to prevent the sales of the Chinese mitten crab to the consumers. BuRO also recommends to inform consumers of the Chinese mitten about possible health risks.

The Chinese mitten crab contains dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs. Long-term exposure to these substances possibly leads to effects on reproduction. Furthermore, BuRO recommends to set standards at the European level for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in all consumable parts of the Chinese mitten crab, both the white and the brown meat. BuRO ordered the investigation of the amount of mitten crab caught and traded and more specifically the consumption rate of the crab by the Asian population in The Netherlands. This combined with the analyses of the dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs resulted in the risk assessment and recommendations by BuRO.


This BuRO recommendation is upon request by the Ministry for Medical Care and Sport (MZS), who asked BuRO to assess the risks for public health to the Dutch consumer following consumption of the Chinese mitten crab.

The Chinese mitten crab

The Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) is an invasive species that predominates in the Dutch waters since 1930. The mitten crab in The Netherlands often contains high levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Therefore, a catching restriction for mitten crab exists since April 1, 2011 for several catchment areas. The consumable parts of the mitten crab contains white and brown meat. Regulation (EC) nr. 1881/2006 includes maximum levels for white meat of the crab, but currently maximum levels for brown meat are lacking, as was assumed brown meat would not be consumed.