Tag Archives seafood

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against five importers, wholesalers and distributors of seafood, alleging they sell fish with levels of cadmium and lead high enough to require warnings governed by the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop. 65). California v. Pacific Am. Fish Co. Inc. (Cal. Super. Ct., filed December 28, 2020). The companies—Pacific American Fish Company, Rhee Bros., Seaquest Seafood Corporation, Jayone Foods and Clearwater Seafoods—sell products such as clams, mussels, octopus, oysters, squids and snails. “When California's consumers, restaurants, and supermarkets purchase seafood, they shouldn’t have to worry about whether the products they’re buying contain toxic chemicals,” Becerra said in a press release. “The seafood industry has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its products – and to warn consumers of any risks. I hope this lawsuit serves as a warning to any company that might skirt its responsibilities under Proposition 65. The California…

A putative class action has alleged that Subway Restaurants Inc. sells tuna products that "do not contain any tuna nor have any ingredient that constitutes tuna"—the products "are completely bereft of tuna as an ingredient," according to the complaint. Dhanowa v. Subway Restaurants Inc., No. 21-0498 (N.D. Cal., filed January 21, 2021). "As independent testing has repeatedly affirmed, the Products are made from anything but tuna," the complaint asserts. "On the contrary, the Products are made from a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended together by Defendants to imitate the appearance of tuna. Defendants identified, labeled and advertised the Products as 'tuna' to consumers, when in fact they were not tuna. Yet, Defendants have systematically and consistently continued to label and advertise the Products as 'tuna.'" The complaint does not note what the Subway products are purportedly composed of if not tuna. The plaintiffs…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has requested information "pertaining to the labeling of foods comprised of or containing cultured seafood cells," which the agency notes are "being developed and may soon enter the marketplace." "Animal cell culture technology involves the controlled growth of animal cells, their subsequent differentiation into various cell types, and their harvesting and processing into food," the notice states. "Once produced, the harvested cells could potentially be processed into or combined with other foods and marketed in the same, or similar, manner as conventionally produced meat, poultry, and seafood." Comments will be accepted until March 8, 2021.

President Trump has issued an executive order directing Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to “ensure the continued supply of meat and poultry” consistent with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. CDC also issued a report on COVID-19 at meat and poultry processing facilities for the month of April 2020 that found 4,913 cases and 20 deaths among 130,000 workers and cited, among other risks, “crowded, multigenerational” residences and carpooling as relevant factors increasing the likelihood of transmission among employees. The government actions coincide with lawsuits seeking to hold meat and poultry processing plants liable for injury or death caused by COVID-19, including a wrongful death lawsuit brought against Quality Sausage Co. following the death of a forklift driver who allegedly contracted the coronavirus from coworkers. Parra v. Quality Sausage Co., No. DC-20-06406 (Tex. Dist. Ct., filed April 30,…

A California federal court has refused to approve a $6.5 million settlement between Tri-Union Seafoods and commercial food preparers. In re Packaged Seafood Prods. Antitrust Litig., No. 15-2670 (S.D. Cal., entered January 17, 2020). The court found that the proposed $6.5 million, half of which would go to attorney's fees and $2 million to costs and expenses, "would provide at most $1.5 million" to the class. The gross settlement amount "is approximately one-third of the damages," the court noted, and "a rough calculation suggests that [the class] will collectively receive approximately 6.85% of the damages they attribute to [the defendant]."

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that Roy Tuccillo, Sr., his son Roy Tuccillo, Jr., and their food processing and distribution companies, Anchor Frozen Foods Inc. and Advanced Frozen Foods Inc., have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The companies reportedly imported 113,000 pounds of squid and sold it as octopus to more than ten grocery stores. The father and son could face up to five years of imprisonment and fines up to $250,000, while their companies may be required to pay a fine of up to $500,000 and face five years of probation.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a recommendation that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establish a process that ensures the agency tests at least one shipment of imported seafood before removing it from alert status. GAO reviewed 274 removal decisions between 2011 and 2018 and found that FDA did not conduct audits for 260, or 95%, of the decisions. "FDA officials said they conducted limited sampling because many import alert removal decisions can be supported by documentary evidence provided by firms," GAO announced. "Additionally, for certain violations that indicate a firm failed to meet regulatory or administrative requirements and may pose a public health hazard, an FDA directive establishes a goal for FDA staff to conduct a follow-up inspection within 6 months. However, GAO's review of removal decisions found that for 31 of the 32 firms that received such a finding, FDA did not conduct a follow-up…

A California federal court has reportedly refused to lower the fine of $100 million that StarKist must pay following a guilty plea on charges of price fixing. The company apparently argued that the penalty could bankrupt it because it continues to face potential civil damages, but the court found that StarKist had legal recourse to ask for an extended payment schedule should financial troubles arise. Under the court's schedule, StarKist will pay $5 million within 30 days of the ruling, $11 million in 2020 and $21 million each year from 2021 to 2024.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that Phillip Carawan pleaded guilty to falsely labeling crabmeat worth $4 million as a product of the United States despite being imported. Carawan and his company apparently could not meet customer demand and imported foreign crabmeat to cover orders for U.S.-produced crabmeat. “Seafood mislabeling is consumer fraud that undermines efforts of hardworking, honest fisherman and the free market by devaluing the price of domestic seafood,” the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina said in a DOJ press release. “In this case, the fraudulent scheme artificially deflated the cost of domestic blue crab and gave Carawan an unacceptable economic advantage over law-abiding competitors.”

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that Michael Casey, vice president of Casey's Seafood Inc., has pleaded guilty to charges of falsely labeling almost 400,000 pounds of crab meat as derived from Atlantic blue crab in the United States despite importing the meat from a number of countries, including Indonesia, China, Thailand and Vietnam. Casey's guilty plea comes after a conviction for his father on similar charges. The foreign crab meat, which the company reportedly repacked into containers labeled "Product of USA," had a wholesale value of approximately $4,324,916. “U.S. consumers expect the origin of their seafood to be correctly identified. When sellers attempt to deceive the public about their product’s origins, they put the public’s health at risk by introducing seafood of unknown origin,” a DOJ investigator is quoted as saying in an agency press release. “When sellers are deceptive about their products’ origins, they deprive the…

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