Another meat-labeling foul at a Brooklyn Heights Key Food has left managers scrambling to win back their customers’ trust, just days after the same Atlantic Avenue store’s legendary “Poultrygate” scandal.
Last month, the news was that state agriculture officials had investigated the supermarket for allegedly relabeling poultry so that it would sell well after its “sell-by” date.
But this week, even after all the local chatter over our two stories about the fowl situation, someone was still running amok with the labeling gun — tags that read “Easy Peel Jumbo Shrimp” were affixed to bizarre-looking packages of squid, imitation crab and clams, a combination of underwater delicacies that only a strict kosher consumer might mistake for shrimp.
Pictures of the same unseemly seafood mix — this time labeled “Octopus” — also showed up on the Cobble Hill Blog last month after our first chicken story.
And this week, a package of what appears to be fish showed up on the same neighborhood Web site as “Boneless _______,” which would make sense if only the noun had not been crossed out.
We put our best reporter on the story. In the fish aisle, he scooped up the “Easy Peel Jumbo Shrimp” package, saw that it contained just one shrimp mixed in with all that extraneous seafood, and showed it to the manager.
“There have been problems with the labels — we need to fix them right now,” the snapper-faced manager told an employee who handles the labeling process. “This is not shrimp, it should say ‘Combination Seafood.’ ”
Despite it all, the shop has a clean record in the eyes of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, at least as of May 13, when inspectors responded to the initial complaint that chicken had been relabeled with more-distant “sell-by” dates. A state spokeswoman revealed last week that it’s legal to re-date and re-package food as long as said food is not spoiled.
But with a consistent stream of customer complaints, it appears that locals are taking the investigation into their own hands.
“When you go there, you know not to buy the seafood — especially if it’s the ‘manager’s special’ with an orange label,” said Key Food regular Daria Culver, who alleged that the special label “means the food is old.”
That allegation could not be verified.
Still, managers are making a public call to their customers: if you buy it and there’s a problem, bring it back and we’ll fix it. They said every chicken was replaced after the relabeling scare, new freezers will be installed soon, and that the label-maker will definitely be making some new, correct tags.
Incorrect label or not, the price is certainly right on the “shrimp” at this Key Food — it was only $2.54 for a half-pound of the seafood mixture.