Shrimpers upset over mislabeled seafood
DELCAMBRE - People in the Louisiana shrimp industry are upset after a Texas seafood company admitted to mislabeling 35,000 pounds of Mexican shrimp as wild-caught American shrimp.
Delcambre, a town 20 miles south of Lafayette, was once known as the shrimp capital of the world. The town's currently trying to get its seafood industry back on the map, but accused others of cutting corners.
"It's just horrific to us, because we're trying to survive and we're trying to bring back our industry from these imports and mislabeling is just thievery, plain and simple," said Port of Delcambre Director Wendell Verret.
Garcia Shrimp Co. of Brownsville, Texas pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the Lacey Act by selling the shrimp to a New Orleans-based distributor. The Texas company could face a maximum penalty of a $500,000 fine and an organizational probationary term of five years.
"It is upsetting and it's not necessary. You know there's a way to do business and be straight about what you do," said Thomas Hymel of the LSU AgCenter. "If you mislabel what you've got it just puts a black eye on everybody."
Hymel says if shrimp are mislabeled there's no way for an everyday person to tell the difference. He said the practice is common across the country.
"They have testing programs out there that the scientists can determine one shrimp species from another easily, and that's how they determine if a product is mislabeled," he said.
"Someone else can just make a quick buck off simply switching out a product like that. It's just de-motivating, demoralizing... all those things," said Verret.
U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown will sentence the company Sept. 24.