Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Coronavirus Hasn’t Contaminated Crab Legs


Quick Take

A viral post disguised as a TV news report falsely claims that crab legs have been contaminated with the novel coronavirus. The pandemic has affected the flow of seafood from foreign markets, but crab is safe to eat.


Full Story

A viral Facebook post falsely claims that crab legs have been found to be contaminated with the coronavirus. The meme, which has been circulating on social media as a “screenshot” of television news, actually comes from a bogus news-generating app. The original post has since been deleted, but the meme and its misinformation have continued to circulate.

The news “screenshot” shows an image of crab legs behind the “BREAKING NEWS” headline: “CORONA VIRUS HAD BEEN FOUND IN CRAB LEG.” The news chyron (the text on the lower portion of the image) also declares that “The Virus Has Now Been Found in Crab Lega Studies Say.”

As the website Lead Stories found, the “screenshot” is actually the product of an app called News Maker. The app allows users to generate “your own realistic, television-style news screenshots using your own photos and your own creative headlines.” We checked and matched the visual components of the screenshot image, such as the “6 News” logo, blue background, and chyron style, to the app.

The chyron’s text contains typos and grammatical errors, suggesting it wasn’t made by a media outlet. For example, legs are spelled “lega,” and “corona virus” is incorrectly spelled as two words.

Furthermore, the claim that crab has been found to be contaminated with the coronavirus is unfounded. A February press release from the Food and Drug Administration states, “Again, we want to reassure the public that at this time there is no evidence that food or food packaging have been associated with transmission [of coronavirus] and no reason to be concerned.”

In a Q&A article on COVID-19, the World Health Organization states that “[t]he likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”

The WHO also advises that “when visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.”

These are normal seafood safety precautions, Forbes reports. Recent travel advisories have led the FDA to announce that it is “postponing most foreign inspections through April, effective immediately” while maintaining “oversight over international manufacturers and imported products using alternative tools and methods … which have proved effective in the past.”

That’s not to say that the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions will not affect seafood supply chains. Import restrictions and a lockdown on domestic travel in Italy, France and Spain have caused seafood suppliers to shut down due to the lack of foreign demand. Forbes reports that many people are opting to order frozen and processed seafood products online instead of getting fresh products at markets, citing this article on the Chinese seafood market.

Regardless of how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the global seafood supply chain, crab legs — and seafood products — have not been found to be contaminated with the virus.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Badger, Moe. “Say it Ain’t So Lord.” Facebook. 25 Mar 2020.

Cooper, Ryan. “Fact Check: Coronavirus Has NOT Been Found In Crab Legs.” Lead Stories. 14 Mar 2020.

Martin, Scott. “News Maker – Create The News.” Apple Inc. Accessed 27 Mar 2020.

World Health Organization. “Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19).” World Health Organization. 9 Mar 2020.

Hahn, Stephen M., M.D. “FDA’s Actions in Response to 2019 Novel Coronavirus at Home and Abroad.” Food and Drug Administration. 14 Feb 2020.

Hahn, Stephen M., M.D. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Update: Foreign Inspections.” Food and Drug Administration. 10 Mar 2020.

Food and Drug Administration. “Seafood Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information.” Food and Drug Administration. 26 Feb 2020. Accessed 27 Mar 2020.

 von Eschenbach, Andrew C., M.D. “Enhanced Aquaculture and Seafood Inspection Report to Congress.” Food and Drug Administration. 20 Feb 2008.

Travel.State.Gov. “Global Level 4 Health Advisory – Do Not Travel.” Travel.State.Gov. Accessed 27 Mar 2020.

Jersey Evening Post. “Coronavirus: Fishing industry in crisis as exports collapse.” Jersey Evening Post. 15 Mar 2020. Accessed 27 Mar 2020.

Jin, Ronnie. “Can Chinese seafood sector cope with the coronavirus?” The Fish Site. 11 Feb 2020.