Florida is well-known for its abundant and quality seafood. To maintain that reputation – and for the safety of the public – federal, state and local governments have regulations in place regarding the maintenance of seafood at optimal temperatures. Compliance with these regulations is monitored by Florida Fish and Wildlife and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Did you know that, as a merchant, you can end up with a criminal charge for not maintaining proper refrigerator temperatures for seafood?
Florida Statute 379.401(2)(a) correlates to Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) administrative code 68E-27.014(1)(a), which states that refrigeration and freezer facilities of the capacity to maintain potentially hazardous food must be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. An equipment malfunction or failure to check in with proper refrigeration temperatures can be devastating for merchants in the fish market business if the temperatures of hazardous food (such as fish) are found even a few degrees higher than 40 degrees. This can be a costly mistake that not only leads to spoiled fish, but also FDA business shutdowns, fines, investigations, extra inspections, or even a criminal charge imposed by Florida Fish and Wildlife. Failure to maintain the correct temperature is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail, 6 months’ probation and a $500.00 fine. FWC can and will inspect at their discretion – and at random – to ensure perilous food products are being handled properly.
A criminal defense attorney experienced in FWC cases can help navigate these damaging Fish and Wildlife charges by explaining the judicial process, investigating the facts, negotiating with the prosecution, and presenting carefully crafted arguments to the judge. Sometimes, a skilled FWC defense attorney can secure a dismissal of charges.
For mom-and-pop businesses and corporate chains alike, it is imperative to know how you could be affected by these laws. Contact Casanova Law to obtain the advantage of a skilled Fish and Wildlife criminal defense attorney in Palm Beach and Martin Counties. Founding attorney Lourdes Casanova is a Florida native and former prosecutor with experience in FWC cases.