Oceana’s new report found that 38 percent of the crab cakes sold as locally sourced blue crab, instead contained imported species, most of which are fished unsustainably. This mislabeling rate is consistent with Oceana’s previous studies on fish and shrimp. In 2013, Oceana found that one-third of more than 1,200 fish samples were mislabeled according to Food and Drug Administration guidelines. We also found 30 percent of shrimp samples to be misrepresented to consumers in a similar study in 2014.
Seafood fraud encompasses any illegal activity that misrepresents the seafood you purchase, including mislabeling and falsifying documents or adding too much ice to packaging. The species substitution of crab uncovered here inflates the price for consumers, parades imported and sometimes illegally caught crab as local, prevents consumers from making sustainable seafood choices, and harms the livelihoods of local fishermen and seafood businesses. Without traceability that tracks seafood from the fishing boat to the final consumer, this type of fraud will continue to occur. Key information such as the species name, and where, when and how the crab was caught should follow the product throughout the supply chain. Requiring more transparency and full chain traceability will help to ensure that all seafood sold in the United States is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled.
48% of the crab cakes tested used crab species from the Indo-Pacific region (44%) and the Mexican Pacific coast (4%)
In total, we found eight species other than the blue crab present in crab cakes purchased in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Crab cakes sold as "Maryland," were mislabeled the most, followed by those sold as "blue crab."
Nearly half of the species found in the crab cakes we tested are listed as species to "avoid" on seafood guides, while the real Maryland blue crab is considered a "best choice" or "good alternative" depending on where and how it was caught.
I can't help but wonder how many of those restaurants where crab and seafood fraud occurs are own by Asian immigrants who pass off any shoddy quality item to make a profit.