Hairy crab retailers say they have suffered a 15 per cent drop in sales, which some attribute to the poor economy. The bad news for the retailers follows a report last winter that the seasonal delicacy was contaminated with antibiotics. But a Food and Environmental Hygiene Department spokesman said yesterday recent checks of crab retailers and importers found 50 samples tested did not exceed allowable levels of antibiotics, heavy metals or bacteria. Hairy crab retailers on Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui said sales this year had dropped 15 per cent from last year. Tse Chuen-gun, who owns the Sam Yeung Tai Kee store, blamed the weak economy. Mr Tse said vendors had been forced to drop prices from $70 to $60 a crab. The price of a basket, normally containing 48 crabs, has fallen from $3,200 to $2,800. He said none of the Granville Road retailers imported cheaper crabs from disreputable suppliers and he personally always asked for official certificates of quality from suppliers in Shanghai. The department spokesman warned consumers to be careful and buy only crabs from reputable retailers. 'Clean, remove internal organs and cook the crabs thoroughly before consumption as they may contain parasites. They should be consumed immediately after purchase. Dead crabs are highly perishable and are not fit for human consumption.' Inspectors began testing crabs last season when a magazine published a report based on laboratory results it commissioned that found crabs contained traces of the antibiotics oxytetracycline and chloramphenicol.