Maryland Bill Targets Seafood Fraud - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Bill Targets Seafood Fraud

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.- A bill introduced last week in Maryland would make seafood fraud a much harder business. 

Many restaurants and packing houses throughout the state label products with names like "Maryland Crab" and "Blue Crab".  If passed, House Bill 913 would make it illegal to label anything as a Maryland crab, unless it actually comes from Maryland. 

Jack Brooks, one of the owners of JM Clayton Company in Cambridge, said many people don't know where their seafood is coming from.

"We certainly feel that the consumer has every right to know where their crabmeat is coming from.  If they think that because they are eating it in Maryland it must be from Maryland, and that's not always the case."  said Brooks.

JM Clayton supplies crabmeat to a neighboring restaurant, Snappers. Owner Laura said says for her, using Maryland crabmeat is important.  But for other restaurants, it can be too costly.

"I've even asked, we'll go out to dinner and I'll ask them if it's Maryland crabmeat, and they say "no, it's too expensive.  No one sells Maryland crabmeat."  And I say, 'Well, I do,'" said Sydnor.

A chef at Snappers tells WBOC that the cost of Southasian or Venezuelan crabmeat fluctuates between $8 and $10 a pound less than Maryland crabmeat, which is currently going for approximately $25 a pound.

Sydnor said buying Maryland crabs may be expensive, but it is not just about location.

"I think we have the best crabs anyway.  Maryland crab has a unique taste to it, and you know you buy local, you support local," Sydnor said.

There is currently a law in place that requires seafood suppliers to mark the country of origin for their seafood.  This law would require restaurants to join in as well, and mark it on the menu.

If passed, the law would go into effect on Oct. 1.

The bill can be read here.

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