Cape Cod supplier takes blame for Price Chopper illegal lobsters

Published on
August 1, 2016

The Lobster Trap, a live lobster and fresh fish supplier based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.A., has taken responsibility for sending undersized lobsters to supermarket chain Price Chopper’s New York stores.

The undersized lobsters were discovered during an investigation by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which found 925 lobsters with smaller body lengths than allowed by New York State for commercial sale. A press release from the New York DEC on 28 July said Price Chopper fines of up to USD 100 (EUR 90) per undersized lobster, for a maximum total of USD 92,500 (EUR 82,840).

Lobster Trap claim of responsibility was issued Friday, 29 July, by Logan Clarke and Dave Madden, the company’s co-owners.

“It was never our intention to send short length lobsters to any of our customers. The lobsters in question were of legal length (3 ¼” carapace) in 46 states in all and every country across the world - but not in New York, where the regulation calls for an additional 1/8”, or 3 3/8” measurement altogether,” Clarke said. “It’s entirely our fault that some of our packers mixed 3 ¼” lobsters earmarked for other Northeastern states with the shipment bound for Price Chopper.”

As a result of the situation, The Lobster Trap has decided to no longer house lobsters shorter than the New York State size limit at its Cape Cod facility, it said in a press release.

Price Chopper Vice President of Public Relations and Consumer Services Mona Golub told SeafoodSource her company would seek to have The Lobster Trap pay any fines it ends up receiving as a result of the DEC investigation.

“Their failure to meet our product specs requirement has damaged the integrity of our trade partnership with them and our faith in their measuring process,” she said. “We do intend to hold them responsible. We believe these are their fines to pay, not ours.”

Golub said The Lobster Trap had been supplying Price Chopper for nearly 30 years, but that Price Chopper is now sourcing its lobster from other lobster operations in New England.

“Any good company should always have a back-up supplier or two for major commodities, and we do. We will still be sourcing our lobster entirely from New England, which is wonderful for us because we operate entirely within and near New England,” Golub said. “We pride ourselves on our outstanding reputation for fresh food, particularly when it comes to seafood. It’s unfortunate that this shipment which we received unknowingly has given anyone pause to question our integrity. It’s a one-off incident that is not the standard for Price Chopper.”

In a press release, The Lobster Trap co-owner Dave Madden said he regretted putting Price Chopper in the position of having to defend the quality of its seafood products.

“We’re shipping tens of thousands of lobsters daily. It’s important for people to understand that Price Chopper didn’t knowingly accept short length lobsters from us. We delivered them in error,” Madden said. “We find it truly unfortunate that our unintentional lack of oversight has put into question their fine reputation as a retailer with whom we have done business for nearly 30 years.”

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