Nearly 40 percent of restaurants serve fake blue crab cakes

WASHINGTON — Summer months are around the corner and that means blue skies.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the crabs will be blue.

Nearly 40 percent of crab cakes served at area restaurants don’t have the blue crab meat they advertise, reports Oceana — a nonprofit dedicated protection of the world’s oceans.

Instead the eateries serve imported and often illegally caught crab meat.

Below is a chart showing what kinds of crab were found:

crab3,jpg
Crab species identified in Oceana’s crab cake testing. Red-hued colors indicate different swimming crab species from the Indo-Pacific. Green colors indicate swimming crab from the Pacific coast of Mexico. Asterisk (*) indicates that the crab species is not on the FDA Seafood List, one of which lacked a common English name. (Courtesy Oceana)

Steve Vilnit, director of fisheries marketing at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, tells The Washington Post imported crab meat is cheaper and more consistent throughout the year.

In Oceana’s report, the organization says the samples it tested came from 86 Chesapeake-area restaurants ranging from high-end to catering trucks. Overall, 38 percent of crab cakes were mislabeled.

Mislabeled crab meat found at rates of:

  • 47 percent in Annapolis
  • 46 percent in Baltimore
  • 39 percent in Washington, D.C.
  • 38 percent in Ocean City
  • 9 percent on the Eastern Shore

“The local industry can’t possibly survive when people think they’re supporting it, and they’re not,” Vilnit said.

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