Retailer Harris Teeter refunds customers who may have purchased mislabeled crabmeat
Customers holding VIC loyalty cards with U.S. supermarket chain Harris Teeter are being offered refunds for crabmeat purchased between 2010 and 2015 in light of a federal fraud case levied against one of the retailer’s former seafood suppliers, Casey’s Seafood.
The owner and president of the Newport News, Virginia-based seafood company, James R. Casey, pleaded guilty in late September to selling recalled foreign crabmeat as Chesapeake blue crab in a years-long scheme that netted millions of dollars. According to court documents, Casey’s Seafood mislabeled around 360,000 pounds of crab worth nearly USD 4.3 million (EUR 3.7 million), selling it to various restaurants and food stores across several Southeastern states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Tennessee.
Casey, 74, could face up to five years in prison for his role in the scheme, The Washington Post reported.
While prominent North Carolina retailers such as Publix, Food Lion, Bi Lo, Earth Fare, and Whole Foods were not involved in the sale of Casey’s crabmeat, according to The Charlotte Observer, Matthews, North Carolina-based chain Harris Teeter did unwittingly end up selling fraudulent crab to its customers.
“The president of Casey’s Seafood, one of Harris Teeter’s former crab meat suppliers, pled guilty to mislabeling certain crab meat. As a result, Harris Teeter is refunding its customers for the full amount of any Casey’s Seafood crab meat purchases made with a valid VIC card between January 1, 2010 and June, 2015. Harris Teeter removed Casey’s Seafood products from sale in June 2015,” the retailer said in a company notice posted on its website.
Those customers who purchased the crab used their VIC customer-loyalty program cards to do so, Harris Teeter Communications Manager Danna Robinson explained to The Observer. Impacted customers were contacted by the retailer, and were informed of the restorative options available to them: those who purchased less than USD 100 (EUR 87) of crab between 2010 and 2015 were given credit on their VIC cards that must be used before 15 July, 2019, while customers who purchased more than USD 100 of crab were given a gift card.
Federal agents were allegedly informed of Casey’s Seafood’s fraudulent practices by a tip, and conducted various DNA tests as a result across several states, including North Carolina. Harris Teeter participates in DNA testing of high-risk seafood items, The Observer confirmed.