Nanjing eateries get 'crayfish insurance'
A BIG Chinese insurance company is offering restaurants in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, insurance for a degenerative muscle disease that can come from eating crayfish.
The coverage, from Ping An Property Insurance, is designed to protect the eateries from claims made by people who get sick.
A person diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis - or rapid muscle breakdown - can be paid a maximum of 20,000 yuan (S$4,070).
Five restaurants have paid 1,500 to 3,500 yuan to be insured for a year.
Zhu Qiang, a manager of the insured restaurants, said the insurance helps ease customers' worries, which will lead to increased business.
"(The) media reports cases of rhabdomyolysis from time to time.
"Though we pay great attention to food sanitation, we still buy the insurance to make customers feel more comfortable and safe," said the employee.
Rhabdomyolysis has been associated with eating crayfish contaminated with chemical detergent residues.
Chinese doctors speculate that a kind of widely used "shrimp washing powder" can cause the disease, which may later develop into kidney failure or even death.
"Some restaurants use the washing powder to cut cost," said manager Zhu.
"Fewer workers are needed to wash the crayfish, which are not easy to clean. The powder is now strictly prohibited, and restaurants that value their reputations won't take the risk of using it."
Under the insurance policies, customers who get the rare disease need to submit a hospital diagnosis.
"The disease usually shows symptoms within six to 16 hours after eating crayfish," said Li Dan, a product manager at Ping An.
"As a pilot insurance, we are temporarily setting a 12-hour window."
According to a report released in August by Meituan, a popular online food-ordering site, there are 17,670 crayfish restaurants in China.
Wang Shengqi, deputy director of the market supervision bureau of Nanjing's Gulou district, said food safety liability insurance covering crab and hotpot will be introduced soon.
ASIA NEWS NETWORK