These civil forfeitures total $100,853.50 and bring an end to a nine month investigation by Weights and Measures inspectors in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
The civil forfeiture settlements stem from 157 violations found at 23 grocery stores located in Fond du Lac, Outagamie, Shawano, Racine, Rock and Walworth counties. None of the businesses admitted to having committed violations.
The businesses involved and forfeiture amounts are listed below.
- Aldi Foods, Inc. = $7,756.00
- Eastern Fisheries, Inc. = $13,857.00
- Marder Trawling, Inc. = $7,756.00
- Roundy's Supermarkets, Inc. = $9,100.50
- Schnucks Markets, Inc. = $5,570.00
- South Padre Seafood = $1,047.00
- Supreme Lobster & Seafood Co. = $22,245.00
- Topco Associates, LLC = $6,235.00
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. = $3,161.00
- Waukesha Wholesale Foods DBA Custom Seafood Packers = $24,126.00
- TOTAL = $100,853.50
The investigation also resulted in ten compliance agreements and 26 warning letters - bringing the total number of enforcement actions to 46. Packages of short weight seafood were found in 22 counties.
"We are enforcing the laws that say consumers should pay only for seafood - not ice," said Janet Jenkins, DATCP's Administrator of Trade and Consumer Protection. "Our investigation found overcharges as high as $6.00 per package."
Packers often apply a coating of ice glaze to frozen seafood prior to packaging to preserve the quality during storage and distribution. This practice is acceptable, but state and federal laws prohibit including the weight of ice in the labeled weight of seafood.
"We hope this investigation and subsequent enforcement sends a strong message to frozen seafood companies," added Ms Jenkins. "Our goal is to make sure consumers get what they pay for at the checkout."
This investigation went beyond state lines. Wisconsin organised a multi-state effort that included Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Ohio and Washington in January and February of this year. Nationwide, inspectors removed more than 21,000 packages of seafood from grocery stores.