[Miami, FL] Do you know where you green beans have been? It says where they came from right there on the label, right?
As consumers, we don’t have the time and the resources to trace the origins of everything we eat. That’s why people need to be able to trust food labels, especially for organic food. One South Florida food supplier recently found out how important it is that trust remains.
Earlier this week, Miami-based Antwerp, LLC – a supplier of organic food (fruits and vegetables mostly) – was sentenced for introducing misbranded items into the marketplace. The company’s managing member also received a punishment.
According to the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Antwerp – the successor corporation of Pure Nature Organics, LLC – knowingly and intentionally sold organic broccoli and green beans that came from China.
Not a big deal? They were labelled as coming from Costa Rica. And that, broccoli eaters, is very illegal. It’s a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act.
U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke sentenced Antwerp to three years of probation and a $50,000 criminal fine. The company was also ordered to “develop and implement a food distribution compliance plan.”
“Misbranded products mislead consumers into purchasing items and products that they might not otherwise purchase, if properly labeled. Consumers have a right to expect that they are getting what they paid for,” U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated.
“Proper labeling makes this possible and, more importantly, ensures product safety,” he said.
The imposter broc and beans were sold under the Pure Nature Organics brand back in 2008. When the retailer was notified that the organic food products had been misbranded, they were pulled from the shelves. FDA tests showed that the food was safe, just mislabeled.
Back in March, Antwerp managing member Marc Meurs pled guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and was sentenced to a year of probation. Meurs also personally guaranteed the payment of Antwerp’s criminal fine.
“We will continue to hold accountable those who would attempt to mislead consumers with falsified product labels,” said David W. Bourne, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Miami Field Office.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Image: Dallas, TX, Farmers Market July 2011 (photo: awsheffield)