California Attorney General sues Clearwater Seafoods over lead and cadmium allegations

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a lawsuit against five seafood importers, distributors and wholesalers, including Canadian company Clearwater Seafoods, for violating Proposition 65 and the California Unfair Competition Act.

Tests conducted by the California Department of Justice have found levels of lead and cadmium in fresh and frozen packaged seafood from companies that trigger the requirement to provide a Proposition 65 warning, according to the complaint.

Becerra filed the lawsuit Wednesday in California Superior Court against the Canadian-based Pacific American Fish Company, Rhee Bros., Seaquest Seafood Corporation, Jayone Foods and Clearwater Seafoods.

In the lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra alleges that the companies have failed to protect consumers from – or warn them of – the lead and cadmium in their products and the risks these chemicals pose.

“When California consumers, restaurants and supermarkets buy seafood, they shouldn’t have to worry about whether the products they buy contain toxic chemicals,” he said. “The seafood industry has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its products and to warn consumers of any risk. “

Proposition 65 prohibits any person, in the course of their activities, from “knowingly and intentionally exposing[ing] any individual to a chemical known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity without first giving that individual a clear and reasonable warning.

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The seafood involved in the lawsuit – including pieces of clam, cuttlefish, eel, goby, krill, mussel, octopus, oyster, periwinkle, sea squirt, sillago , silverfish, snail and squid packaged whole or frozen, fresh and frozen, packaged, believed to contain lead and / or cadmium, which are listed in California as toxic to reproduction and carcinogenic, without clear and reasonable warning to consumers.

“Clearwater sells, owns and / or delivers seafood, including, but not limited to, arctic clams and white clams to California consumers,” according to the lawsuit.

Clearwater VP of Sustainability and Public Affairs Christine Penney said IntraFish the company was surprised by the attorney general’s complaint.

“We are confident that our products are safe to consume and comply with applicable laws,” she said. “We plan to defend our company and our products, and we look forward to working with the Attorney General to resolve this matter.”


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Tanya S. Norvell