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article imageYour Chesapeake blue crab cakes may be fakes

By Karen Graham     Apr 2, 2015 in Food
The iconic Chesapeake Bay blue crab cake is much sought after by locals and tourists alike. The distinctive fresh-caught flavor is the crab cake's best selling point. But guess what? Over one-third of the crab meat in some crab cakes comes from overseas.
A new study done by Oceana was released on April 1 that revealed that over one-third of the crab cakes sold in Annapolis, Maryland and Washington D.C. restaurants, billed as being "authentic" Chesapeake Bay blue crab cakes, were made from crabs from as far away as Indonesia.
In a press release dated April 1, Oceana says: “We found that consumers trying to order blue crab from the Chesapeake Bay are often getting an entirely different species from half way around the world,” said Dr. Kimberly Warner, report author and senior scientist at Oceana. “Consumers simply don’t know enough about what they’re eating and substituting imported species for local blue crab can cost them a premium.”
Oceana says the imported crab meat used in the local restaurants surveyed could have been illegally caught, and the substandard crab meat being passed off as the more expensive Chesapeake blue crab meat has inflated the price for consumers.
Oceana says this ruse has also undermined the choices that consumers have been making in sustainable seafood choices and hurts local fishermen and seafood companies.
Oceana took 90 crab cake samples from 89 restaurants in and around the Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Maryland areas. All the samples were advertised as being from local blue crabs caught in the 2014 season. DNA testing was done on the crab meat from each crab cake.
What was interesting was the finding in the report specifically detailing where the crab meet came from, and what other species of seafood was found in the mixtures:
1. At least 48 percent of crab cakes tested used crab species from Indonesia, and another 4.0 percent came from the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
2. In total, eight "other" species were found in the crab cakes.
3. Most frequent mislabeling errors had the words "Maryland" and "blue crab."
4. Nearly half of the "other" species are listed as "species to avoid" on seafood guides.
Kimberly Warner, a senior scientist at Oceana and the report’s author said the implications of fraud have a ripple effect, starting at the time the crabs are caught and going all the way to the consumer purchasing the plate of crab cakes.
Warner said the mislabeled crab meat contributes to illegal fisheries, with recent reports showing that 32 percent of seafood sold in the U.S. coming from illegal or unregulated fisheries. It also undermines local fisheries who rely on consumer support.
More about Crab Cakes, chesapeake blue crabs, seafood fraud, Maryland, Washington dc
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