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Feds Pushing To Crack Down On Foreign Seafood Labeled 'U.S. Product'

MANCHESTER, Md. (WJZ) -- Food fraud. Seafood bought right here in Maryland, turning out to be from 100,000 miles away. It's misleading and it's hurting our bottom dollar.

Christie Ileto has more on the new push for regulations from lawmakers.

When you come into Captain Bob's Seafood in Carroll County, you know what you're getting and where it came from. It's posted everywhere. But senators like Barbara Mikulski say not everyone is as honest.

Friday, the feds are pushing to crack down on seafood processors importing, repackaging and labeling foreign crab meat as a U.S. product, calling it a "misleading practice that threatens the livelihood of watermen."

Joe Eccleston, the owner of Captain Bob's Seafood, used to harvest.

"And plus, you don't know what kind of health environment that crab was picked in or packaged in. And that can cause a serious doubt," he said.

The Chesapeake Bay's seafood industry in both Maryland and Virginia generates billions of dollars a year in sales and income and creates thousands of local jobs.

The Cappadoras are loyal customers who feel everyone should receive the same transparency.

"If you're packaging it and it's coming from China, it should say China on it," said Frank Cappadora, customer.

This push for transparency comes after a July report warned the number of blue crabs in the bay are at extreme lows.

"The people are coming in and we're saying we don't have them," Eccleston said.

The demand for crabs was up earlier this month while watermen were being asked to cut down their catch.

Ileto: "Why do you think it's so necessary to have that stamp that says U.S. product, made in Maryland and from Maryland?"

Eccleston: "So many people have become doubtful about where the product is from, so we have to assure them."

Eccleston is doing his part, hoping the feds can shut down deceptive labeling.

The Department of Agriculture Regulations says seafood harvested in U.S. waters, caught by registered U.S. vessels or processed at U.S. plants can be called U.S. products.

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