Monday, March 30, 2015
Rant: Seafood Fraud & Imitation Crab
At your local sushi restaurant, you decide to order the Kanikama, which the menu says is crab. However, you learn that it too is not real crab, and just more of that imitation crab. You also realize that the California Maki Roll that you love, which also says it contains crab, only has imitation crab. Isn't that a type of seafood fraud, where the package doesn't tell the truth about what is inside?
In 1973, a Japanese company created Kanikama, an imitation crab meat which is made from pulverized white fish, and usually other ingredients like egg whites, that has been cured and then shaped to look like crab meat. Crab flavoring is added to it, and red food coloring is used on the exterior. It may also be called Surimi, a Japanese term which means "ground meat." The most important thing is that it doesn't contain any actual crab meat.
Obviously, imitation crab is used because it is cheaper than using real crab. Its use is widespread, and goes much farther than just the sushi world. Many processed foods that say "crab" actually use the imitation crab. Imitation lobster is also made from surimi but its use is much less common than the imitation crab. Fewer products seem to use fake lobster. It can be difficult to find processed foods that contain actual crab.
I want to see menus and products be more transparent about imitation crab, to make its use much more prominent on their packaging. If it says "Crab Dip" on your package and it doesn't contain any real crab, I want the word "Imitation" to be as large and bold as the words "Crab Dip." I don't want to have to squint to read the tiny font of your ingredients to see real crab is missing. Be honest and true about your products.
Otherwise, it becomes a form of deception, a type of seafood fraud.