A federal court has sentenced a Harnett County seafood processor for mislabeling imported farm-raised shrimp. Alphin Brothers Incorporated faces a $100,000 fine and three years probation for falsely marketing 25,000 pounds of shrimp as wild-caught in the U.S.
Barry Nash is a Seafood Technology Marketing Specialist with North Carolina Sea Grant. He said federal laws are strict about labeling the country of origin, and that many Americans believe domestic sea food is fresher and safer.
"Educated consumers with high disposable income relative to economy markets do value local food and many do research where local food producers are, and try to patronize them by buying their products."
But some processors might mislabel cheap foreign and farm-raised seafood to get a higher price.
"Knowing that there is some kind of enforcement out there may, for a number of processors, act as a deterrent, and for others it may not. They may feel like, 'Well the rules don't apply to me, I'll just get away with it anyway.' It just depends on the individual," he said.
However, Nash said news about the Alphin Brothers could ultimately hurt the seafood industry by spurring mistrust in consumers.