Innovation #7: Handy Seafood’s Gluten Free Crab Cakes

Gluten Free Crab Cake

Handy Seafood, the oldest seafood processing company in the United States, is the first to reach 125 years of age.  Handy is celebrating this milestone achievement by highlighting products introduced throughout the years.  Handy’s July innovation focuses on the first certified gluten free crab cake.

Back in 2008, when gluten-free products were just starting to emerge, long-time customer Ms. Jimmy reached out to Handy. “I crave your delicious crab cakes but my gluten intolerance is keeping them away,” said Ms. Jimmy.  Without hesitation, Jimmy further stated, “make me a crab cake loaded with chunks of crab meat, without gluten or preservatives, and a taste that will make my family and friends smile with wonder.”

Handy discovered that Ms. Jimmy was not alone with her gluten-intolerance and there was a growing demand for gluten-free products.  Terry Conway, Handy’s Executive Chairman, made the decision to develop a gluten-free crab cake. Conway stated, “gluten-free is consistent with Handy’s good-for-you product criteria”.  Handy’s culinary team came together and accepted the challenge.

Handy’s R&D team was especially challenged to find the optimum combination of natural gluten-free ingredients that mimicked the texture of a traditional crab cake. After several variations, a gluten-free crab cake evolved. The texture was perfect and the flavor of the crab meat was enhanced. “These gluten-free crab cakes have exceeded my expectations. I never thought gluten-free could taste so good,” stated Ms. Jimmy.

The next challenge was to modify the processing facility to be free of gluten contamination.  After facility modifications were made and two audits completed, the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (“GFCO”) issued a certification in 2009 for Handy to begin production and use their logo on packaging. Handy’s gluten-free crab cake would be the first certified by the GFCO on the market.

Today, some 3.1 million people across the United States follow a gluten-free diet.   Since Handy’s launch of the first certified gluten free crab cake in 2009, sales have steadily grown.  There are six grocery chains nation-wide stocking Handy’s gluten free crab cakes.  Restaurants are featuring the product on gluten free sections of their menus because of the great taste it has. Handy continues to build on the gluten-free and good-for-you product line to exceed their consumers expectations. 


Handy Seafood is a family-owned company with 125 years of quality seafood processing. Products include soft shell crabs, crab meat, crab cakes, seafood specialty items, oysters and artisanal fish. 

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