MADISON, Wis. — Ten companies accused of overcharging shoppers for frozen seafood have agreed to pay fines and sign new compliance agreements in response to a multi-state short weighting investigation.
The civil forfeitures, totaling more than $100,000, conclude the nine-month investigation launched by the Weights and Measures division of Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Many of the fines were relatively small. Wal-Mart, for example, was fined about $3,000. But, the investigation helped raise consumer awareness of short weighting — the practice of including the weight of ice with the weight of the seafood in a package when pricing a product. DATCP officials said they hoped the fines and compliance agreements would make retailers more vigilant and would deter suppliers from short weighting in the future.
“We hope this investigation and subsequent enforcement sends a strong message to frozen-seafood companies,” Janet Jenkins, DATCP's administrator of Trade and Consumer Protection, said in a release.
Wisconsin organized the multi-state effort, which included Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Ohio and Washington during January and February of this year. Inspectors removed more than 21,000 packages of seafood from supermarket freezers.