Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating claims that seafood distributors are profiting off of consumers by falsely advertising their products as locally caught and sustainable.
On June 13, the Associated Press (AP) reported that distributor Sea to Table is mislabeling what it markets as “traceable, sustainable, wild-caught American seafood.”
Sea to Table has been praised as “revolutionary” for its “guilt-free” seafood options, and sells seafood to celebrity chefs, fine dining restaurants, and fast-casual chains around the country. Sea to Table claims that its products are directly traceable to a U.S. dock – and sometimes to the exact boat that brought the seafood in.
However, the AP investigation found numerous examples of Sea to Table selling seafood that did not come from its advertised locations. The AP also found Sea to Table offering species that were illegal to catch, out of season, or farmed.
Further, reporters traced the company’s supply chain to migrant fishermen in foreign countries who described labor abuses, including individuals who received little as $1.50 a day for 22-hour shifts.
The global seafood industry has come under scrutiny in recent years for exploiting workers who toil on international waters under abhorrent working conditions. While Sea to Table markets itself as an alternative to purchasing seafood that is the product of abusive foreign labor conditions, the AP investigation revealed that some of Sea to Table’s suppliers are engaged in this same worker exploitation.
Conscientious consumers are increasingly paying a premium for local, sustainable food. These consumers make buying decisions seeking to avoid indirectly supporting human rights violations in the global supply chain. Companies that prey on consumers’ good intentions for their own profit may be in violation of federal law and subject to criminal charges. The Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are charged with enforcing laws outlawing mislabeling of seafood.
If you have purchased from Sea to Table or wish to obtain more information about seafood marketed as local and sustainable, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.