Are Maryland crab cakes the real deal? Seafood labeling could pose problems for restaurants

Sam\'s on the Waterfront, a seafood restaurant in Annapolis, serves up an Ocean City Flounder Florentine special from fish caught off the shores of the Maryland beach town. Capital News Service photo by Sarah Tincher.

Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS – Marylanders — lawmakers included — take their crabs very seriously, which prompted a legislative proposal that would let residents know when their “Maryland style” crab cakes aren’t the real deal.

Some members of the seafood and restaurant industries fear that legislation introduced in the state House of Delegates proposing tighter regulations on seafood labeling could be impractical and costly for Maryland restaurants.

Currently, the Maryland Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act as well as guidelines set in place by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibit mislabeling of seafood products. But, in an effort to inform consumers about what they’re eating and where it’s coming from, legislation has been introduced in the House Environmental Matters Committee to propose even tighter regulations on the labeling of seafood products, such as the requirement that restaurants clearly display state of origin for all seafood and state or country of origin for crab products on a sign or menu.

The bill, however, has met many opponents throughout the seafood and restaurant industry, most of whom cite the potential costs and inconveniences the regulations could impose on restaurants.

Andrew Parks, owner of Annapolis seafood restaurant Sam’s on the Waterfront, said he has “no doubt” that there are restaurant owners who are not totally honest about how their food is sourced or where it was coming from, but said the proposed legislation might not be realistic.

“I’m sure people serve farmed fish and say it’s wild and vice versa, I think that’s just an ethical issue

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