Tag Archives seafood

A consumer has alleged that Iberia Foods misleads consumers by substituting giant squid for octopus in three of its octopus products. Zapata Fonseca v. Iberia Foods Corp., No. 18-6279 (E.D.N.Y., filed November 5, 2018). The plaintiff's putative class action asserts that Iberia and its supplier, Orbe, either knew or should have known that the products were not octopus, which the plaintiff purportedly discovered through third-party DNA testing. "Squid is significantly cheaper and of a lower quality than octopus," the complaint argues. "In fact, the squid undergoes a chemical treatment in order to make it more similar to octopus in its texture. This process also eliminates a very characteristic taste of the dosidicus gigas with chemical substances to obtain a neutral flavor. Additional testing has revealed that this bait-and-switch, and active concealment, is occurring throughout the Orbe Cross-Brand Octopus Products as well." For alleged violations of New York consumer-protection statutes and…

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a complaint alleging Foo Yuan Food Products Co. Inc. distributes seafood products contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and Clostridium botulinum. According to DOJ’s press release, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected the facility several times and documented “significant deficiencies” during each inspection, including the alleged “failure to maintain the cleanliness of food contact sources” and “failure to ensure that all persons working in direct contact with food, food contact surfaces and food-packing materials conformed to hygienic practices to protect against food contamination.” “The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that food processors comply with laws designed to ensure food safety,” an attorney for DOJ said in a press release. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with the FDA to ensure that Americans are protected from potentially unsafe food.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will host a public meeting on cultured meat, poultry and seafood on July 12, 2018. In a press release, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb asserted that the agency governs "both substances used in the manufacture of these products of animal cell culture technology and the products themselves that will be used for food" and grouped cultured meats with other "rapidly evolving areas of technological innovation" such as genetically engineered foods and microbial, algal and fungal cells generated and used as direct food ingredients. "The FDA remains committed to using our expertise in relevant scientific areas to evaluate the safety of emerging food technologies, such as foods generated by animal cell culture technology," according to Gottlieb's statement. "But as we mentioned, in addition to leveraging the existing expertise of our staff, we’re also investing in making sure we are considering all the unique attributes and challenges…

A federal court has granted the U.S. Department of Commerce's motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit aiming to block implementation of the Seafood Import Monitoring Program, which will require importers to document the catch-to-table distribution chain. Alfa Int’l Seafood, Inc. v. Sullivan, No. 17-­0031 (D.D.C., entered August 28, 2017). A group of seafood processing, distribution and retail companies argued that the agency violated federal law in promulgating the rule, alleging it was issued without proper authority or supporting evidence. Several environmental groups previously sought to intervene in the lawsuit to defend the rule, but the court denied their motion. The court found for the defendants on all issues, finding that Commerce's authority is broader than the plaintiffs asserted. The plaintiffs argued that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has exclusive regulatory authority over food labeling, but the court pointed to other relevant authorities that can affect labeling, including the…

Dollar General Corp, Moran Foods LLC and Krasdale Foods, Inc. have filed lawsuits alleging that the makers of Bumble Bee, StarKist and Chicken of the Sea illegally conspired to fix prices for their products, echoing ongoing litigation alleging similar facts. Dollar General Corp. v. Bumble Bee Foods LLC, No. 17-1744 (S.D. Cal., filed Aug. 29, 2017); Moran Foods LLC v. Bumble Bee Foods LLC, No. 17-1745 (S.D. Cal., filed Aug. 29, 2017); Krasdale Foods, Inc. v. Bumble Bee Foods LLC, No. 17-1748 (S.D. Cal., filed Aug. 30, 2017). The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees. Nine putative class actions and related individual cases alleging price-fixing by the tuna companies were consolidated in multidistrict litigation in December 2015.

A federal court has ruled that three environmental groups lack standing to intervene in a lawsuit to block implementation of the Seafood Import Monitoring Program. Alfa Int’l Seafood v. Ross, No. 17­0031 (D.D.C., order entered April 17, 2017). The court held that the Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity failed to establish concrete or particularized injuries “fairly traceable” to the possible vacating of the proposed program, known as the Seafood Traceability Rule. Even if they could, the court found, the groups still had not made a minimal showing that defendant U.S. Department of Commerce was unable to adequately represent their interests in the case. The groups argued that the new administration “might adopt policies that negatively affect the force of the Rule,” but Commerce reported that it supported the program. The court also dismissed the groups’ disagreements with Commerce about the program’s scope and timing…

The owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the United States has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, falsifying federal records, cash smuggling and tax evasion in a case accusing him of deliberately misreporting the types of fish he caught to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). U.S. v. Rafael, No. 16­-10124 (D. Mass, plea entered March 30, 2017). Carlos Rafael, owner of Carlos Seafood, Inc. and known as the “Codfather,” will face possible forfeiture of his business assets and up to five years in prison at his June 2017 sentencing. An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigation apparently found that Rafael caught 800,000 pounds of fish over several years and reported it as haddock, pollock or other species with high NOAA quotas despite containing thousands of pounds of fish with lower quotas, including cod, flounder, grey sole, yellowtail and American plaice. Rafael also told IRS agents posing as…

A California court held that Bumble Bee Foods, LLC did not act illegally by claiming its tuna was an “excellent source” of omega-­3 fatty acids despite a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposal to prohibit the practice. Garrett v. Bumble Bee Foods, LLC, No. 14-­264322 (Cal. Sup. Ct. Santa Clara Cty., order entered March 30, 2017). The plaintiffs alleged Bumble Bee began making the omega­-3 claim in 2008, one year after FDA published its proposed rule, but the court found that Bumble Bee ended the claim after the rule was finalized in April 2014. “The fact that Bumble Bee engaged in conduct that was proscribed by a ‘proposed’ rule does not make it unlawful or illegal,” the court said. Bumble Bee began using the omega-­3 claim after a supplement maker notified FDA in 2005 that it intended to use an omega-­3 nutrient content claim on its product labels. Because…

Three environmental and conservation advocacy groups have moved to intervene in a lawsuit filed by a group of seafood processing, distribution and retail companies to block implementation of the Seafood Import Monitoring Program. Alfa Int’l Seafood, Inc. v. Sullivan, No. 17-­0031 (D.D.C., motion filed March 7, 2017). Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity are asking to defend the oversight program, known as the Seafood Traceability Rule, which gives the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration power over stringent reporting and recordkeeping of fish catches, vessel and species identification, names of buyers and other chain-­of-­custody information. The National Marine Fisheries Service published the rule in December 2016 to combat U.S. imports of seafood alleged to be the product of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, along with fraudulent practices such as mislabeling of species.   Issue 627

A California-based seafood company has reportedly been sentenced in federal court for knowingly selling mislabeled frozen fish fillets. United States v. Seafood Solutions, Inc., No. 11-297 (C.D. Cal., sentencing February 6, 2012). Seafood Solutions, Inc. agreed to plead guilty to the charge in July 2011, as part of a federal investigation into companies that had been selling Asian catfish imports under other labels to avoid anti-dumping duties. Under the terms of the agreement, the company was fined $700,000 and will pay an additional $300,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Two California men also pleaded guilty in connection with the scam and are apparently scheduled for sentencing on February 12, 2012. See Law360, February 7, 2012.

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