Costco says mislabeled shrimp was a mistake

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Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 4:56 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- More and more people are becoming health conscious and regularly checking food labels. But can you trust what's printed on those labels? A Suncoast man is asking that very question after buying some shrimp that had two conflicting labels.

Over the weekend, the Sarasota man purchased what he thought was wild harvested, U.S.A. shrimp from the highly reputable company Costco. But when he got home he found out otherwise.

Rich Ridenour has been a Sarasota Costco member for 6 months, and until now has enjoyed buying in bulk from the wholesale store. But he says he lost trust in the company after the label on the front of the package of shrimp he purchased for him and his family was not what was on the inside.

"Because my wife is a cancer survivor, breast cancer survivor, we read everything that we purchase these days. And so it's very important to us to try to avoid farm raised products," says Ridenour.

Costco shrimp package: Wild Gulf Prawn -- Product of U.S.A.
Courtesy: Rich Ridenour

He says the 4 pound bag of shrimp was labeled as "Wild Gulf Prawns -- Product of U.S.A." on the outside. But the inside packaging had the shrimp marked as "Product of Vietnam; farm raised".

Costco shrimp package -- Product of Vietnam, Farm Raised
Courtesy: Rich Ridenour

Feeling misled, the next day Ridenour returned the shrimp and even retracted his membership. "The manager says that it was a mistake, and that he was going to go back to the meat department and find out."

ABC 7 spoke with the manager at the Sarasota Costco, who says the shrimp were sold during their Seafood Road Show event on Sunday and was clearly labeled Tiger Shrimp from Vietnam. But when they ran out, an employee went to the back to get more, and accidentally printed the wrong labels.

"We thank Mr. Ridenour for bringing it to our attention. It's very rare that that happens. These guys are very, very precise and accurate, but unfortunately this time he just put in the wrong combination of three digits and it came up with a different item description," says manager Scott Christensen.

Sarasota consumer advocate, restaurant and farm owner Ed Chiles says the importance of checking labels is growing. Many are staying away from farm-raised products, which could contain antibiotics or hormones. "This individual represents that growing class of people that want to know where there food is coming from."

Costco's manager says 7 mislabeled shrimp packages were sold Sunday, and they have contacted and offered refunds to those customers.

Ridenour says Costco has offered him a free year on membership to come back.

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