Harris Teeter is contacting members of its VIC loyalty-card program this week to offer refunds involving crab meat sold between 2010 and 2015.
The crab, supplied by a Virginia company called Casey’s Seafood, is part of a massive federal fraud case over the mislabeling of seafood.
The Washington Post reported Sept. 26 that Casey’s owner James Casey, 74, pleaded guilty in September to relabeling and reselling “distressed” crab meat from other countries as fresh crab meat from the Chesapeake Bay. Distressed crab meat is crab that was recalled, returned or out of date. Casey will be sentenced in January and is facing up to five years in prison, according to the Post.
The charges involved more than 360,000 pounds of crab sold between 2012 and 2015, although prosecutors believe the crab meat switch may have dated to as early as 2010, the Post reported.
The crab meat was valued at millions of dollars, and was sold to stores and restaurants in multiple Southeastern states, including North and South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia and Tennessee, according to the Associated Press.
Checks by The Observer of other supermarket chains, including Publix, Food Lion, Bi Lo, Earth Fare and Whole Foods, didn’t find other companies in North Carolina involved in the sales of the Casey’s crab meat.
Multiple news reports about the case say that federal agents were notified by a tip and did DNA tests on samples of the product in several states, including North Carolina.
Danna Robinson, communications manager for Harris Teeter, wouldn’t say how many customers were contacted or how much it is providing in refunds.
Customers were identified as buying the crab through their VIC customer-loyalty program. If you got the call and you bought less than $100 of crab, you’ll get a credit on your VIC card that must be used before July 15, 2019. If you bought more than $100 worth, you’ll get a gift card.
VIC credits will be applied automatically. If you are eligible for a gift card, you’ll need to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name, your VIC card number or a phone number associated with it, and your mailing address.
If you think you bought the crab and didn’t get a call or you don’t have a VIC account, you can call Harris Teeter Customer Relations, 800-432-6111; select option 2. Details also are posted on the company’s website, www.harristeeter.com.
Robinson said customers eligible for refunds bought the crab between Jan. 1, 2010, and June 2015.
The labeling of seafood bought in other countries is the subject of a new program by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Seafood Monitoring Program, which took effect this year. It requires monitoring and record-keeping on imported stocks of certain species, including blue crab.
Robinson said Harris Teeter participates in DNA testing of high-risk seafood items.