Imitation crab is popular, convenient and affordable. But is it for sure for pregnant women to eat? check out on to discover out much more about this versatile, ready to eat seafood product.

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The use of pollock, which has low level of mercury, in surimi-based products like imitation crab provides it safe for usage during pregnancy. Imitation crab is additionally already fully cooked before packaging, hence making it safe from potential food borne pathogens. However, pregnant women must be vigilant of other seafood varieties that can additionally be supplied in make surimi, specifically the high-mercury species of fish and mollusks that may cause allergies.

Jesmarie Macapagal, RN, MD, DPPS

This post talks more about what imitation crab is, and also how that is manufactured and prepared. Next, that will discuss the threats of potential allergens current in imitation crab. Lastly, it will administer the security issues and ways to maintain safety that imitation crab for consumption during pregnancy.

Table that Contents
What is Imitation Crab?
risk of allergies from Imitation Crab
safety Issues concerning Consumption the Imitation Crab during Pregnancy
how to keep Imitation Crab Safe throughout Pregnancy
last Thoughts

What is Imitation Crab?

In despite the of the name, imitation crab has no crab at all. Rather, that is made of handle fish meat, thus the pseudonym “hot dog that the sea”. It is frequently referred to as “crab stick”, “krab”, or plain “surimi”. In Japan, they are also called “kamaboko”.

“Surimi” is a Japanese term because that deboned, minced, and washed fish flesh, that is used for manufacturing imitation seafood assets (Martin-Sánchez et al., 2009). Surimi fish paste is an intermediate product supplied in preparing a selection of ready to eat (RTE) seafood products, referred to as surimi-based products (SBPs), marketed in the creates of crab sticks, fish slices, lobster tails, and also others (Ducept et al., 2012).


According to the U.S. FDA Compliance Policy overview (CPG) on processed seafood assets (2008), surimi is a fish protein coming from one or much more fish types that room made come resemble crab meat, shrimp, lobster, scallops, and other seafood.

Freshly captured Alaskan pollock is the many popularly fish supplied in do surimi. The fish is filleted, minced, washed to remove fat and unwanted parts, climate strained (Hicks, 2016). The life fish proteins room solubilized in salt climate heated to form a surimi hydrogel (Martin-Sánchez et al., 2009).

Salt, sugar, and/or sorbitol are added to stabilize the protein during frozen storage. Afterward, the surimi is combined with binders, such together starch or egg white. Man-made flavoring is added to do it taste prefer the preferred product (Hicks, 2016). Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is likewise added. Orange or red coloring provides the mixture resemble shellfish meat.

Common additives provided in imitation crab include:

Gums – xanthan gum and carrageenanColorants – carmine, paprika, sugar beet juice extract, lycopeneMSG and also disodium inosinateCrab extract or artificial crab flavoringsPreservatives – salt benzoate and also phosphates

The surimi fish paste is formed into the wanted shape and texture, and completely cooked (Hicks, 2016), climate vacuum sealed to keep its freshness.

The main component the the imitation crab is surimi. It renders up 35 come 50 percent that the product’s weight. The continuing to be 50 come 65 percent of an imitation crab is consisted of of the adhering to processed ingredients:

Starches – wheat, potato, tapioca, corn; these do the surimi firm and freezableSalt – sodium chloride or potassium chloride adds flavor and helps rotate the fish meat into a sturdy pasteVegetable oil – boosts texture, shelf life and also coloringSugar and sorbitol – add sweetness and aid the product freeze and also thaw easilyEgg white or soy – included for a rise of protein and to improve texture and also color; also make the imitation crab glossyWater – helps create the desired texture

The complying with macronutrients are current in one 85 gram serving of imitation crab and also compared to those found in the very same amount of life Alaskan king crab:

Imitation CrabAlaskan King Crab
Protein6.48 grams15.6 grams
Fat0.391 gram0.51 gram
Carbohydrate12.8 grams0 gram
Fiber0.425 gram0 gram

Real crab has significantly higher levels of nutrient 보다 imitation crab. If the calorie in an Alaskan king crab are derived from proteins, calories from one imitation crab are derived from included carbohydrates.

Real crab likewise provides a higher amount that vitamins and minerals, and also is a great source that vitamin B12, selenium and zinc. Surimi loses this nutrients during washing and processing. Although some manufacturers add omega-3 fatty mountain to your imitation crab products, actual crab is still higher in omega-3 fatty acid content.

Imitation crab has end up being popular and is typically used together ingredient in seafood salad, crab cakes, and also California episode rolls.

Learn More: have the right to you eat crab foot while pregnant?

Risk of allergies from Imitation Crab

Alaskan pollock is the key fish types used because that the production of surimi. However, due to increasing need for SBPs and also overexploitation the pollock, assorted underutilized fish species are now likewise being used. Cephalopods, squids in particular, are also often used. Therefore, surimi to represent a product that can make use of a wide variety of seafood varieties (Giusti et al., 2017).

According to the europe Union (EU) law on food labelling, the existence of ingredients that might potentially cause allergies need to be listed, consisting of fish and mollusks. However, it is no mandatory because that manufacturers to carry out the commercial or scientific name of the seafood species present in SBPs. Hence, the usage of cephalopods might be unlisted and can reason a potential danger for allergic consumers (Giusti et al., 2017).

In 2007, Pepe et al. Concluded the mislabeling amongst SBPs to be “a large phenomenon”. This study uncovered that 84.2 percent of SBPs made usage of seafood types that were different from those the were asserted on the label.

In 2017, Giusti et al. Examined assorted SBP products and also found the 37.5 percent that the samples lock took to be labeled incorrectly. Amongst these, 25 percent asserted a various species, while one more 25 percent did not report the presence of mollusks on their labels, which deserve to pose a wellness threat for consumers v potential allergies.

Safety Issues concerning Consumption of Imitation Crab throughout Pregnancy

The U.S. Food and Drug administration (US FDA) recommends the pregnant women stop eating shark, swordfish, mackerel and also tilefish due to the fact that these fish regularly harbor high levels of mercury.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin and also is maybe to overcome the placenta. It has the potential to cause far-ranging damage to the emerging fetal nervous system (Evans, 2002). Exposure come mercury during pregnancy has been linked with pregnancy complications and developmental problems among infants (Solan & Lindow, 2014).

Pollock is a low-mercury form of fish. According to the united state FDA, pollock is among the “best choices” because that seafood usage during pregnancy. Therefore, imitation crab have the right to be thought about a seafood dish that is for sure for pregnant ladies to eat.

However, any type of life seafood need to be avoided during pregnancy. Thus, also if the imitation crab is safe when eaten on that is own, it should not be consumed when inserted on optimal of raw sushi or stuffed in life lobster.

Moreover, salt is essential in the production of surimi to keep the gelation that salt-soluble myofibrillar proteins. At present, there is growing problem to consume healthy foods and prevent the breakthrough of several chronic conditions caused by unhealthy and high-sodium diet (Monto et al., 2021).

Compared to actual crab, imitation crab consists of a higher amount that sodium. When 3 ounces of actual crab meat has 911 milligrams that sodium, the exact same amount that imitation crab meat consists of 715 milligrams of sodium.

How to keep Imitation Crab Safe throughout Pregnancy

When purchase imitation crab, look because that opaque off-white meat with red color on the surface. If the product is frozen, there must be no crystals in the package, that would indicate freeze-thaw problems. Once thawed, examine that the product is moist and firm, not wet and also soft. Execute not buy any type of product with sour, fermented, or sulfur smells, which would show spoilage (Hicks, 2016).

Always read the label and also find out if you are allergic to any ingredient. Stop cross-contamination with raw seafood and raw meat by keeping sanitary food preparation measures (Hicks, 2016).

Imitation crab should constantly be maintained inside the refrigerator. It must not be left at room temperature for much more than 1 to 2 hours. Once the package has been opened, it have to be completely consumed in ~ 3 days.

Final Thoughts

Imitation crab is a processed fish meat make by combine minced fish through starch, egg white, sugar, salt, and also additives, to mimic genuine crab meat. It is much less expensive that real crab, but is additionally less nutritious.

In regards to safety, imitation crab is not known to reason harm, as long as it was stored properly, made v low-mercury fish, and all ingredients in the food are fully cooked.

However, if provided a choice, pregnant women should opt for actual crab rather of one imitation one. Actual crab can provide lots of nutrient without additives and added sugar and also salt indigenous an imitation crab.

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Consult your many trusted dietitian or health care provider come know an ext about the security of eating ready to eat handle seafood commodities during pregnancy.

Evans, E. (2002). The FDA recommendations on fish intake throughout pregnancy. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal parenting 31(6), 715-720. PMID: 12465868Monto, A. R., Li, M., Wang, X., Wijaya, G. Y., Shi, T., Xiong, Z., …, & Gao, R. (2021). Recent developments in preserving gel nature of surimi commodities under diminished salt conditions and use the additives. Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 1-16. Doi: 10.1080/10408398.2021Pepe, T., Trotta, M., Di Marco, I., Anastasio, A., Bautista, J. M., & Cortesi, M. L. (2007). Fish varieties identification in surimi-based products. Journal of agricultural and Food Chemistry 55(9), 3681-3685. Doi: 10.1021/jf063321oSolan, T. D., & Lindow, S. (2014). Mercury exposure in pregnancy: A review. Journal the Perinatal medication 42(6), 725-729. Doi: 10.1515/jpm-2013-0349