Ill. supplier responds to fraud allegations

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
October 25, 2009

 Anthony Migacz, president of Registry Steaks & Seafood, on Friday responded to U.S. Food and Drug Administration accusations that the Bridgewater, Ill., company illegally substituted one species for another and short-weighted shrimp.

In a press release on Wednesday, the Better Seafood Bureau (BSB) praised the FDA for enforcing violations of the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The agency claimed Registry Steaks & Seafood sold northern rock sole labeled as grouper and shrimp products that had been over-glazed with ice and/or a marinade, artificially increasing the product weight beyond acceptable levels.

Migacz told SeafoodSource on Friday that he was under the impression that the issues had already been resolved in July after he followed up on an FDA inspection conducted in April.

On 8 October, the FDA sent Registry Steaks & Seafood a warning letter giving the company 15 days to correct the violations or risk closure and/or seizure of product.

Then on Thursday, Migacz responded with a letter to Rosemary Sexton, a compliance officer in FDA's Chicago office.

In the letter, Migacz said the 80 pounds of grouper in question was unintentionally labeled as rock sole. He said he had identified the labeling error and his employees were in the process of correcting it when they were interrupted by FDA inspectors. The employees had run out of grouper and were directed to complete the order with rock sole, with the intent of re-labeling the grouper.

Migacz said the company stopped selling both shrimp marinated at its facility and marinated shrimp it purchased from various importers on 28 April, following the FDA inspection. One of the importers is Quirch Foods of Miami, which sold Registry Steaks & Seafood frozen, marinated, tail-on, peeled-and-deveined shrimp from Indonesia. The product was labeled as "Shrimp, 20% Marinade" in the Nutrition Facts panel.

Migacz provided SeafoodSource with a copy of the label. He also provided a copy of a 2 March e-mail from Robert Samuels, an FDA consumer safety officer, that said the label met the agency's requirements, because it listed the weight of the shrimp (1.6 pounds) and the marinade (0.4 pounds).

The FDA's actions are "not fair at all," said Migacz. "I've been very proactive about this."

With a push from the BSB, the FDA in recent months has stepped up its enforcement efforts to crack down on seafood fraud. The BSB was established in 2007 by National Fisheries Institute members as a mechanism to report seafood suppliers suspected of fraud.

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