October 21, 2009 Washington, DC - In a move long advocated for by the Better Seafood Board (BSB), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used its enforcement power to support the economic integrity of seafood, calling on a processor to correct violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act including alleged short-weighting practices or risk a closure and/or the seizure of product.
"This is certainly not the first situation that FDA is aware of but it is the first time in many years that the FDA is doing something about it," said BSB Secretary Lisa Weddig. "The honest folks in the seafood industry are getting what they asked for - an opportunity for the regulatory process to work."
According to a warning letter from FDA, Registry Steaks & Seafood Ltd. of Bridgewater, Illinois increased the weight of a variety of frozen shrimp products by adding an ice glaze and/or "marinade" glaze and substituted Northern Rock Sole for Grouper, both a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The company was given 15 working days to respond with actions they will take to correct the violations or face further action.
"We're experiencing a shift in the FDA's attitude toward enforcing laws designed to ensure consumers get the product they pay for," said Weddig. "The FDA is clearly sending a signal that the days of lax enforcement are over."
In February the FDA reminded processors that the net weight of seafood products ‘may not include the weight of glaze (ice).' A month later the Government Accountability Office found the FDA wasn't doing enough to combat fraud. In August FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg announced she was making regulatory enforcement a priority.
"The timeline is proof that progress is being made but it will take more than one warning letter to deter the bad actors from defrauding the public," added Weddig.
The Better Seafood Board (BSB) was established by the National Fisheries Institute to provide a mechanism for industry's partners in the supply chain - restaurants, retail operations, producers and processors - to report suppliers suspected of committing economic fraud.