9 Things to Know About Surimi [Fake Crab]

A Fooducate community member, Sofia, recently emailed us with this question:

What is it about “Surimi” (or crab sticks), I often see women who are on protein diet eating surimis, I see them in my sushis, I see them in every supermaket but I really wonder if they are ok to eat? Are they healthy because they look quite artificial to me…?! I try to avoid them (no idea why btw)… but I have to confess that they’re quite tasty.

So please, I would be very thankful if you could enlighten me! In order to next time I eat (or avoid) them, simply know why… 

We’ll be glad to elucidate.

What you need to know:

1. Surimi is a Japanese word that literally means “ground meat”.

2. To make surimi, the lean meat from white fleshed fish such as pollock is pulverized into a thick paste. The gelatinous paste can then be combined with various additives to become fake crab, fake lobster, and whatnot.

3. The assortment of additives may include other fish products, but it is usually egg whites, oils, salt, starches, and spices.

4. Here is the ingredient list for a fake crab product called Trans Ocean Crab Classic:

Alaska Pollock, Water, Egg Whites, Wheat Starch, Sugar, Corn Starch, Sorbitol, Contains 2% or Less of the Following: King Crab Meat, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Extracts of Crab, Oyster, Scallop, Lobster and Fish (Salmon, Anchovy, Bonito, Cutlassfish), Refined Fish Oil (Adds a Trivial Amount of Fat) (Anchovy, Sardine), Rice Wine (Rice, Water, Koji, Yeast, Salt), Sea Salt, Modified Tapioca Starch, Carrageenan, Yam Flour, Hydrolyzed Soy, Corn, and Wheat Proteins, Potassium Chloride, Disodium Inosinate and Guanylate, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Carmine, Paprika.

You can see that it is a highly processed food product, with MSG and an assortment of starches and gums to create the expected texture.

5. Food manufacturers love Surimi because it enables them to take cheap fish and upgrade it to a taste and mouthfeel of the most expensive fish meats – crab and lobster.

6. Approximately 2% of the world’s fish catch is processed into some sort of surimi paste.

7. Nutritionally, surimi is low in fat, but usually very high in sodium. In the product example above, a serving of 2 fake legs contains 480mg of sodium (20% of the daily max)

8. Surimi does have some protein due to the fish and egg content. But nothing to write home about. The above product has 6 grams of protein for a 3 ounce serving. Tuna has 30 grams.  Lentils have 20. Cheese has 30 grams.

9. Surimi is cheap – you’ll pay 20-30 cents per ounce. Canned salmon or tuna are usually 50-60 cents per ounce. Real crab and lobster are much more expensive.

Get FooducatediPhone App Android App  RSS Subscription or  Email Subscription

Follow us on twitter: twitter.com/fooducate on facebook: facebook.com/fooducate

Get Fooducated

  • Kristi

    I was just talking with a friend about this stuff the other day.  I said I try not to eat it because it was fake and I wasn’t sure what was in it.  She said that it was fine and just white fish.  Thank you for clearing that up for  me!  Gross!  I will continue not eating it.

    • Dr. House M.D.

      You’re an idiot.

  • FrugalArugula

    So it does have shellfish in it… I feel like they should be honest (or at least informed) at a restaurant when someone says, “I’m allergic to shellfish. Is there any shellfish in this?” I didn’t know 100%, but our waitress said no. That could be dangerous.

    I’ve always thought the stuff to be gross anyway, I like to keep to a no factory pressed meat rule.

  • http://healthybabybeans.blogspot.com/ Clancy Harrison MS, RD, LDN

    Sounds like our version of chicken nuggets for kids!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=725525204 Jim Cooper

    Ok, it is crappy fish. But MSG is harmless and thus not worth pointing out. It occurs commonly in soy, cheese, tomatoes and broccoli!

    • Pauline

      That’s interesting… I’m going to have to further research that. I have always been told MSG is bad.

    • Tamtamxoxoxo

      MSG is bad…….and yes it is naturally occurring but those minute amounts are natural and not enough to hurt us. MSG that is added to food products make it hard for our bodies to work it out. I suffer from severe migraines due to MSG.  It opens up the senses on our tongues and in out nose for us to take in more flavor when we are eating. but the constant use over time wears on those sensers and can eventually make tasting and smelling difficult. of course is will take alot of this over a long period of time. but its good to be informed.

      • BlueCollarCritic

        I will be out of the office today, March 16th, 2012. If you need immediate assistance that can not wait till I return on Monday March 19th, please contact my supervisor Jaymz Yates.

  • http://twitter.com/HealthyMireya Mireya Merritt

    Would you think of whipping this up at home for lunch? NOT!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Debra-Lynn/100002599377225 Debra Lynn

    I love it!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Debra-Lynn/100002599377225 Debra Lynn

    I love it!  

  • Pingback: King Crabs Starts in Southeast Alaska Today. « Juneautek

  • Peter Albert Sweeney

    Anything that I can grow at home I don’t have to worry about where it came from.How about langostino?

  • Jessica72983

    My husband just purchased these and right away I scanned them :) . Yuck!!! I will buy canned crab, tuna, or salmon instead. Thanks for the article!!

    • Doppelganger

      Canned tuna isn’t good for you either because of high levels of mercury. Its getting to the point where you can eat virtually nothing without there being some sort of contaminant. So I say, eat what you want while you’re living – in moderation of course.

  • Dorothybeth

    I didn’t see anything mentioned about msg although you mentioned it?

  • BlueCollarCritic

    “Surimi does have some protein due to the fish and egg content. But nothing to write home about. ”
    I heard that this was an over sight on the part of the food engineers. Originally the paste was supposed to be nutrient free but one of the number crunchers made a mistake and so the stuff got produced with some real protein left in. I heard they were working hard on a version 2.0 that would completely rid the fake meat of all nutrients but they pulled the plug on it a few months back. Apparently Monsanto, the King of Franken foods, is rolling out GMO everything now that they control the politicians (here in the US) they can start GMO’ing anything and everything.
    It’s a real win-win for everyone, especially the fake crab meat companies who can now just ship in the fake meat from Monsanto’s manufacturing facility.
     

  • Phildgoldman

    I eat a few everyday instead of some starchy snack, maybe its not great, but not so bad either

  • Phildgoldman

    I eat a few everyday instead of some starchy snack, maybe its not great, but not so bad either

  • Anonymous

    I just love how that package says “LEG STYLE”… because that makes me want to buy it even more??

  • Docoforg

    Thank you for the information!!!!! So gross and I will never eat them again!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/DyeDiet DyeDiet

    I can’t see MSG in the list of ingredients. It is Mono Sodium Glutamate…

  • Mary

    I used to buy ,after I read this not anymore.

  • Noemi

    Thank you for the question and thank you for the answer

  • http://final-distance.net Tiffany

    It’s fine if you only eat it sometimes.  

  • guest

    Grew up on Alaska and after I moved they put in a line to make surimi, YUCK they press pollok into it and squish it and all the natural flavor and juice is pressed out then they add all that other junk to it, no not now not EVER will I eat this! let alone vote with my dollars for it!!

  • http://www.theglowdetoxdiet.com/ Lauren

    Love this! 

  • Dcb525

    ewww!! im never eating Surimi again!!!

  • Tommy60438

    fda ruled that high frutose corn syrup cannot be called sugar. it said that sugar is hard and crystalize, not syrup. how can pepsi claim in pepsi next that it ruduced sugar by sixty percent, when it never contained sugar

  • Tommy60438

    WRONG THREAD SORRY

  • Gardenkat1

    One more thing to think about..if you’re allergic to crab meat, don’t eat this fake stuff….I had to find that out the hard way.  Flavored with crab juices, etc.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LORI4RTCMHY7VE5SN36ARM3P6A doinggreats

    yuck…I knew there was reason it had to be so cheap!

  • Pingback: How to Make Yummy Sushi at Home… | stephanienoa

  • Pingback: Surimi: cosa nascondono i bastoncini di pesce arancioni al gusto di granchio? « Paoblog

  • Brianna

    I figure if I have this once in a while no big deal there are MUCH worse things I could eat….

  • angle

    i love crab i didnt even know that there was fake crab well im glad thats all straightened out now i know never to get that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/HollaBackGirl4Jesus Rebecca Rucker

    MSG has been called “The Slow Poisoning of America” by some researchers:

    MSG – The Slow Poisoning Of America
    MSG HIDES Behind 25+ Names, Such As ‘Natural Flavouring’
    MSG Is Also In Your Favorite Coffee Shops And Drive-Ups
    9-12-5 I wondered if there could be an actual chemical causing the massive obesity epidemic, so did a friend of mine, John Erb. He was a research assistant at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and spent years working for the government. He made an amazing discovery while going through scientific journals for a book he was writing called “The Slow Poisoning of America”. In hundreds of studies around the world, scientists were creating obese mice and rats to use in diet or diabetes test studies. No strain of rat or mice is naturally obese, so the scientists have to create them. They make these morbidly obese creatures by injecting them with MSG when they are first born. The MSG triples the amount of insulin the pancreas creates; causing rats (and humans?) to become obese. They even have a title for the fat rodents they create: “MSG-Treated Rats”. I was shocked too. I went to my kitchen, checking the cupboards and the fridge. MSG was in everything: The Campbell’s soups, the Hostess Doritos, the Lays flavoured potato chips, Top Ramen, Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper, Heinz canned gravy, Swanson frozen prepared meals, Kraft salad dressings, especially the ‘healthy low fat’ ones. The items that didn’t have MSG marked on the product label had something called ”Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein”, which is just another name for Monosodium Glutamate. It was shocking to see just how many of the foods we feed our children everyday are filled with this stuff. They hide MSG under many different names in order to fool those who carefully read the ingredient list, so they don’t catch on. (Other names for MSG: ‘Accent’ – ‘Aginomoto’ – ‘Natural Meet Tenderizer’, etc) But it didn’t stop there. When our family went out to eat, we started asking at the restaurants what menu items had MSG. Many employees, even the managers, swore they didn’t use MSG. But when we ask for the ingredient list, which they grudgingly provided, sure enough MSG and Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein were everywhere: Burger KingMcDonaldsWendy’sTaco Bell And every restaurant like: TGIF, Chilis’, Applebees and Denny’s use MSG in abundance. Kentucky Fried Chicken seemed to be the WORST offender: MSG was in EVERY chicken dish, salad dressing and gravy. No wonder I loved to eat that coating on the skin, their secret spice was MSG. So, why is MSG in so may of the foods we eat? Is it a preservative or a vitamin?? Not according to my friend John. In the book he wrote, an expose of the food additive industry called “The Slow Poisoning of America” he said that MSG is added to food for the addictive effect it has on the human body. http://www.spofamerica.com Even the propaganda website sponsored by the food manufacturers lobby group supporting MSG at: http://www.msgfactscom/facts/msgfact12.html explains that the reason they add it to food is to make people EAT MORE OF THEIR PRODUCTS. A study of the elderly showed that people eat more of the foods it is added to.The Glutamate Association lobby group says eating more benefits the elderly, but what does it do to the rest of us? ‘Betcha can’t eat just one’, takes on a whole new meaning where MSG is concerned! And we wonder why the nation is overweight? The MSG manufacturers themselves admit that it addicts people to their products. It makes people choose their product over others, and makes people eat more of it than they would if MSG wasn’t added. Not only is MSG scientifically proven to cause obesity, it is an addictive substance! Since its introduction into the American food supply fifty years ago, MSG has been added in larger and larger doses to the pre-packaged meals, soups, snacks and fast foods we are tempted to eat everyday.The FDA has set no limits on how much of it can be added to food. They claim it’s safe to eat in any amount. How can they claim it safe when there are hundreds of scientific studies with titles like these? :- ‘The monosodium glutamate (MSG) obese rat as a model for the study of exercise in obesity’. GobattoCA, Mello MA, Souza CT, Ribeiro IA.Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 2002. ‘Adrenalectomy abolishes the food-induced hypothalamic serotonin release in both normal and monosodium glutamate-obese rats’. Guimaraes RB, Telles MM, Coelho VB, Mori C, Nascimento CM, Ribeiro Brain Res Bull. 2002 Aug. ‘Obesity induced by neonatal monosodium glutamate treatment in spontaneously hypertensive rats: an animal model of multiple risk factors’. Iwase M, Yamamoto M, Iino K, IchikawaK, Shinohara N, Yoshinari Fujishima Hypertens Res. 1998 Mar. ‘Hypothalamic lesion induced by injection of monosodium glutamate in suckling period and subsequent development of obesity’. Tanaka K, Shimada M, Nakao K, Kusunoki Exp Neurol. 1978 Oct. Yes, that last study was not a typo, it WAS written in 1978. Both the “medical research community” and “food manufacturers” have known about MSG’s side effects for decades! Many more studies mentioned in John Erb’s book link MSG to Diabetes, Migraines and headaches, Autism, ADHD and even Alzheimer’s. But what can we do to stop the food manufactures from dumping fattening and addictive MSG into our food supply and causing the obesity epidemic we now see? Even as you read this, G. W. Bush and his corporate supporters are pushing a Bill through Congress called the “Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act” also known as the “Cheeseburger Bill”, this sweeping law bans anyone from suing food manufacturers, sellers and distributors. Even if it comes out that they purposely added an addictive chemical to their foods. Read about it for yourself at: http://www.yahoo.com. The Bill has already been rushed through the House of Representatives, and is due for the same rubber stamp at Senate level. It is important that Bush and his corporate supporters get it through before the media lets everyone know about ‘MSG, the intentional Nicotine for food’. Several months ago, John Erb took his book and his concerns to one of the highest government health officials in Canada. While sitting in the Government office, the official told him “Sure, I know how bad MSG is, I wouldn’t touch the stuff.” But this top level government official refused to tell the public what he knew. The big media doesn’t want to tell the public either, fearing legal issues with their advertisers. It seems that the fallout on fast food industry may hurt their profit margin. The food producers and restaurants have been addicting us to their products for years, and now we are paying the price for it. Our children should not be cursed with obesity caused by an addictive food additive. But what can I do about it?… I’m just one voice. What can I do to stop the poisoning of our children, while our governments are insuring financial protection for the industry that is poisoning us. This e-mail is going out to everyone I know in an attempt to tell you the truth that the corporate owned politicians and media won’t tell you. The best way you can help to save yourself and your children from this drug-induced epidemic, is to forward this email to everyone. With any luck, it will circle the globe before politicians can pass the legislation protecting those who are poisoning us. The food industry learned a lot from the tobacco industry. Imagine if big tobacco had a bill like this in place before someone blew the whistle on Nicotine? If you are one of the few who can still believe that MSG is good for us, and you don’t believe what John Erb has to say, see for yourself. Go to the National Library of Medicine, at http://www.pubmed.com. Type in the words “MSG Obese” and read a few of the 115 medical studies that appear. We the public, do not want to be rats in one giant experiment and we do not approve of food that makes us into a nation of obese, lethargic, addicted sheep, feeding the food industry’s bottom line, while waiting for the heart transplant, diabetic induced amputation, blindness or other obesity induced, life threatening disorders. With your help we can put an end to this poison. Do your part in sending this message out by word of mouth, e-mail or by distribution of this print-out to all your friends all over the world and stop this ‘Slow Poisoning of Mankind’ by the packaged food industry. Blowing the whistle on MSG is our responsibility, get the word out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Zoe-Stevens/906585245 Zoe Stevens

      Hell, I think injecting spinach into infants at birth would be terrible for them. A little bit MSG won’t hurt you – just don’t eat too much processed food, and you’ll be fine.

      • TooFunny

        That’s way funny!

    • toomuchparanoia

      That must explain why people are living longer and having better quality of lives…

      • Linda Rein Graham

        We don’t know that yet. The people who are “living longer” and are “having better quality” of life right now were those born in the early 1900s before the American food supply became inundated with processed foods, flavoring substitutes, hydrogenated fats, GMOs, etc. Time will tell how true that statement is…

    • KIMMIKU

      ya sure america’s not overweight because of just good ol bad diet with carb carbs and carbs, sugar and huge portion sizes. Oh and no excersize

    • unskinator

      If you ever go to far east take note they use MSG as salt, its everywhere. I also have some Aromat spice always in hand at home. i use it instead of salt, makes food taste much better. Aromat is almost pure MSG but it makes a difference in food. Every think is good in moderation and i think more of the Obesity in America can be traced to the HFCS than to MSG. Also the lack of Exercise and high sodium and fat content together with huge portions has a lot to do with obesity. My family we never eat out, i always cook at home. Trying eat out and first think that comes to mind is that who dumped the salt container on this steak? You see your taste buds get accustomed to high sodium and sugar. Good eating at home with little MSG and its all good.

  • SamK

    I like surimi. Not as a shellfish substitute, obviously, because it’s really kind of terrible at that. I appreciate as a unique ingredient in its own right, though. I figure it’s earned that; modern factory production methods aside, the basic product itself is over 500 years old, and used in all sorts of dishes that have nothing to do with it pretending to be something it’s not. It’s versatile, easily flavored, and can be shaped and colored in any way you can imagine.

  • Gs pot

    Um there is no MSG (mono sodium glutamate) in the ingredient list

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate
      • Gs pot

        Your post is misleading. First of all those are NOT synonyms for MSG. If MSG is used it must be stated as such. Secondary “similar items” means nothing except that they are flavor enhancers as well. Third MSG, when eaten in moderation, is not the harmful product it was once thought to be. Seems you have a liberal predjudice against MSG. If you do that’s fine. Just use facts to back up your points.

        • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

          MSG has an effect on some people, even in moderation.

          • Wombat

            So where’s the MSG?

          • Crystalskyes

            MSG has many other names as the food industry LOVES to confuse you and keep you ignorant that you are eating MSG. Pretty simple to understand.
            You guys have been duped for a long time.
            Deservingly so since most people don’t care about their health.
            Only when they get cancer do they cry for mother, father and the govt to help them.

        • Erica

          MSG can cause severe migraines in some people. Even a small amount, like a couple bites of MSG containing food, will trigger the migraine. Some MSG like things also bring ont he migraines when eaten in small amounts, so these “crab legs” are a migraine waiting to happen in my book.

          • EozS

            And a peanut can trigger an awful allergic reaction. If you’re allergic. Otherwise, it’s just a food.

          • Too Funny

            LOL…Killer crab legs.

        • Froggage

          Please tell me that by use of the phrase “liberal prejudice” you are not actually trying to politicize a discussion of MSG, which would be absurd. Otherwise I agree completely with your post.

  • Pingback: Surimi: cosa nascondono i bastoncini di pesce arancioni al gusto di granchio?

  • Fhchcd

    Put in into the oven in thin strips

  • Net

    Oddly enough, I’m not put off! I like the taste :o )

  • fucknuts

    I eat boogers

  • Alice

    FISH.- BASS (Sold by Walmart the frozen
    bag is called SWAI) – also sold at Costco , EAT , SAMS, Chedraui, ETC

    These Bass are fished from boats called
    “panga” (Panga Boats) hence the name Pangasius (Bass), It is an Asian
    fish that we find in the supermarket chains, mainly in the form of steaks, at a
    very cheap price. The panga comes from intensive fish farming / industrial in
    Vietnam , more exactly in the delta of the Mekong river. This
    is what you need to know: the Mekong
    River is one of the most polluted rivers on earth. The skiffs are infected with
    high levels of poisons and bacteria (arsenic of industrial waste, toxic and
    hazardous by-products, the growing industrial sector), metal pollutants,
    phenols biphenyls (PCBS) or DDT and its (DDTs), chlorate, related compounds
    (CHLs), hexaclorociloxano isomers (HCHs) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB). There is
    nothing natural in the pangas. They are fed with dead fish, bones and with a
    flour of South America: manioc and waste grain and soybean. Obviously, this
    type of feeding is the closest thing to the feeding of the mad cows (cows,
    which were fed with waste of other cows, do you remember ? Pangas fish farmimg does not follow sanitary
    regulations. The farmed panga grows 4 times faster than its natural state/environment. In addition, the female pangas are injected with with hormones (produced by a pharmaceutical company china) to accelerate the process of growth and reproduction. When you buy pangas, we are collaborating with companies and corporate giants and unscrupulous speculators, which are not concerned with the health and welfare of human beings. This trade is being accepted by large retail chains that sell to the general public, knowing that they are selling contaminated products. Note: Due to the prodigious amount of these fish, they will end up in other foods: surimi (a ground up trash fish to make a paste which is added to a lot of foods like artificial crab legs, artificial
    lobster, etc.), canned fish and probably in some foods for pets (dogs and
    cats).

    IMPORTANT: CHECK THE ORIGIN OF THE FISH
    AND NEVER BUY FISH OR SEAFOOD OF ASIATIC ORIGIN .

    DO NOT EAT PRODUCTS IMPORTED FROM ASIA
    BECAUSE THEY ARE CONTAMINATED,

    PLEASE, MAKE THE TIME TO SHARE THIS INFORMATION..

  • Will Johnson

    I have to say that surimi tastes good, but the “mouth feel” is nothing at all like real crab meat.

  • Top chef

    ‘To make surimi, the lean meat from white fleshed fish such as pollock’ …. and not to forget Delfin !!!!

  • Igor

    > Surimi is cheap – you’ll pay 20-30 cents per ounce

    They must be making a killing on it. In our major chain supermarket IGA a 454 gram pack of surimi by DYNA-SEA costs… ready? $7 (seven! dollars!)…

  • randy

    Basically, after the filet is removed from a fish, instead of throwing the head, tail, and in between away, its ground into mush. Since no one would ever eat fish mush waste when filet is available, its given another name and formed into the shape of a real sea creature. They expect for every person gullible enough to vote for hope and change will eat fish mush. I lived in AK and been on fish processing boats. I would feed it to my cat if i had nothing else.

    • ChefTim

      Actually the head, guts and tail are removed for making Surimi… At least traditionally. I obviously can’t speak for every factory making it.

      • OnlyOneWing

        Randy is just some ignorant fool. Surimi is good. The problem is that it has almost as much sugar as it does protein. Not good.

  • Shoagrn21

    I love me some California rolls (they are usually made with this stuff)!