Red Lobster’s “Maine Lobster”…NOT!

Dear MLA,

I just wanted to voice a concern about an advertisement of Maine Lobster. I again just saw the Red Lobster commercial depicting them as selling Maine lobster. The most recent commercial even portrays Maine lobstermen on it.

I have boycotted this business for the past few years after eating at two separate Red Lobsters while on vacation in Florida because every lobster I saw there had “product of Canada” bands on the claws…..

Mike Drake

Cuddy’s Harbor

Reprinted in shortened form from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association newsletter, April 2012.

Another letter in the same issue is from Mainers who took a Carnival cruise out of Florida and were served “Maine lobsters” without claws! Clawless lobster species are from warmer waters and could be a number of other lobster species, but not Homarus americanus, our north American lobster. Why should we care about whether a lobster is from Maine or not?

First, let’s hear from Red Lobster’s parent company, Darden Corporation:

….we are also the largest buyer and promoter of North American lobster in the world.In order to meet our annual usage needs, we must source North American lobster from both the United States and Canada. The term “Maine lobster” is commonly used interchangeably with North American lobster and Atlantic lobster. The USFDA also refers to the Homarus americanus species as “Maine Lobster”. Given that “Maine Lobster” is the most recognized and accepted term among consumers, that is the term we use.

Rich Jeffers

Directer of Communications

Darden Corporation, Orlando, FL

Also reprinted in shortened form from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association newsletter, April 2012.

The industrious journalists at MLA did some research and found Mr. Jeffer’s claim to be wanting; the FDA uses the word “lobster” as the “Acceptable Market Name” and “American lobster” as the Scientific common name. In fact, according to the FDA you can legally use the word “lobster” to describe Homarus gammarus, the European lobster. The word “Maine” was not mentioned anywhere. When Melissa Waterman from MLA wrote back to Mr. Jeffers with these observations, she got no response by press time.

So why should we care about this? After all, New Brunswick lobster is every bit as good as Maine lobster…probably. Why then would Red Lobster find it necessary to attach the Maine brand to Canadian lobster? Why would Carnival try to pass off spiny lobster as Homarus americanus? Could it be our reputation for clean cool waters? Our remarkable sustainable fishery? Or maybe they just want to evoke happy memories of that last time you came to Maine. I’m not advocating a boycott of anyone, no one wants a collapse of the lobster market, but a few words to the manager of your favorite lobster restaurant might be in order.

Excuse me, I need to go dig in my garden for a few Idaho potatoes and stop in my greenhouse to water my Florida oranges and prune my Georgia peach tree.

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Comments on Red Lobster’s “Maine Lobster”…NOT!


girevka @ 8:26 pm

That picture looks more like a crayfish than a lobster … is it even legal to catch them that small?


Bruce @ 7:49 am

I guess that is pretty small. You can find out more than you want about the rules by going to http://www.maine.gov/dmr/rm/lobster/guide/index.htm

girevka @ 10:43 am

Thanks for the link Bruce. Unless that lobster is being held by the Jolly Green Giant, it is definitely not a legal catch in Maine (lobster needs to be 5 inches from back of eyeball to rear of carapace to be a keeper).


Mary @ 10:53 pm

Red Lobster receives its produce from all over the globe. Its “Maine Lobster” is actually from Maine.

I used to be an employee there and when we would get the shipment of Lobsters in, the address was marked as coming from Maine.

The reason why they look so small compared to others who have been to Maine and other such places to purchase lobsters is because Red Lobster is limited to certain weights. The weights, by law, that Red Lobster can offer is about a pound and a quarter to four pounds. It has nothing to do with size.


Matt @ 9:30 pm

Oh no! Product of Canada? You mean that Atlantic Canada just slightly NE of Maine? Where the better lobster really come from? Colder water more open water = better product. Rejoice at eating better cleaner food.


Bruce @ 7:55 am

Hey Matt,

Assuming you are from our betterthanwedeserve neighbor to the northeast why don’t you tell us about where you live and why folks on a Maine vacation might want to visit and eat lobster? It could be a guest blog, with pictures and all.

[…] less linear infographic I like? Now as a Mainer, it pains me to like something from Red LobsterĀ (click that link for the skuttlebutt on why Maine doesn’t like Red Lobster in a general way) […]



Last night I ate at a local So. Cal. “Red Lobster.” I ordered the 2 “Maine” lobster special only to discover that they were not “Maine” lobsters at all! I was born in Maine and go back frequently so I know the difference. Yes, the term is used broadly to identify all lobsters caught north of Cape Cod; but they are easily identifiable. They also have texture and taste differences from the lobsters from other parts of the ocean. RED LOBSTER should stop using the term “Maine” lobster for all the lobsters they serve. It is “false adverstising” in my book.



Markisold @ 7:52 pm

If you want a time out with family that’s cheap fun then Red Lobster is nice but if you want real Seafood, go to a 5 Star real Seafood restaurant or place they actually serve real Maine Lobster but be ready to pay a big price. Anyplace serving something $20 or less calling it Maine Lobster should be a clue since $50 or more is going to be the cost unless one lives in Maine. Even in Maine, prices have gone up because of a disease affecting lobsters has cut into supply so demand is high, supply is low means what? Double or triple those prices. This is why handmade jewelry which is really hard to make worthy of selling is so expensive if made in USA since most is from China & garbage that looks nice in pictures only. I know because I make jewelry and change 10 an hour for my work which is not much but a necklace is at least 20 bucks.

If still open in Miami, Joe’s on the Beach was great. There were a few other places then in the Keys where I’d get oysters on the half shell, jumbo shrimp then real crab & real lobster with a small & fine steak. I could do all that for $20 per person but that was 1980 lol so I know it’s fake at Red Lobster.


Irwin Mainway @ 12:34 am

WHO cares? It isn’t from a Chinese pond farm, with unimaginable runoff filling it, and worse dumped in for food = the “All You Can Eat Shrimp”.