Choice Canning

United States


March 5 - 17, 2024
3 inquiries
2 replies

Email sent to three contact addresses at Choice Canning, including the CEO.

The email said: "For several months, we have been conducting an investigation of Choice Canning. Part of that has involved an ongoing conversation with a former Choice Canning employee named Joshua Farinella and his experiences at the plant in Amalapuram. We began talking to Mr. Farinella while he was still on staff with Choice Canning and we have continued the dialogue with him since he stepped down from his position with the company.

Through him and other channels, we have collected a variety of materials concerning Choice Canning, particularly regarding the company’s operations in Andhra Pradesh. These materials include: internal emails, WhatsApp messages, voice memos from senior management, security footage, audio recordings of meetings of Choice Canning staff, invoices from employment contractors, documentation produced by auditors for internal and external use, among other items. We have conducted an intensive review of all those materials. We have also interviewed current and former workers from the plant. We have also corroborated various findings using other documentation (including local news reports from Andhra Pradesh and industry analysis by non-governmental organizations), interviews with experts (such as shrimp industry groups and industry lawyers), and analysis of hundreds of videos taken in and around the Amalapuram plant. We also dispatched a videographer to the plant to visit one of the offsite peeling sheds and to inspect conditions at the Amalapuram compound.

Our investigation found evidence of:

Document falsification by Choice Canning management to mislead auditors about where it sources shrimp and the true count of employees on-site;

Decisions by senior Choice Canning management to ship to customers in the U.S. shrimp that it knows to be antibiotic-positive;

Contradictory documentation by SGS auditors, with SGS reports produced for Choice Canning’s internal use raising concerns about unsanitary production conditions, while SGS reports for external review raised no such issues and instead supported BRCGS and BAP certification of Choice Canning;

Senior Choice Canning management approving the underpayment of workers, and complaints to local police by workers who did not receive payment or who received payment long after it was due;

Choice Canning staff complaints about inadequate living conditions on-site, including worker dorms without proper bedding, or with unhygienic canteen food;

Workers being prevented from leaving the site of their own volition;

Choice Canning’s ongoing use of unsanitary off-site peeling sheds which it concealed from auditors;

Understatement of the number of workers based at the plant and the temporary relocation of some of those workers when auditors visited so as to give a false picture;

Repeated complaints from people living near Choice’s Amalapuram plant of pollution causing health problems in the community;

“Gift” payments to local officials that some might view as bribes.

Mr. Farinella has since obtained legal counsel and subsequently he has filed a whistleblower complaint to U.S. federal authorities.

Questions we have for Choice Canning:

  1. The company has long been publicly seen as among the most ethical of seafood companies in India, the source of thousands of jobs and generous philanthropy. It has started schools and subsidized the arts, and long touted its certification by industry trade groups as a fair and environmentally responsible employer. But the revelations detailed above seem to deviate significantly from the standards that the company purports to uphold. Can you please respond to all of the listed findings summarized above?
  2. Does Choice Canning have a plan in place to address the worker concerns related to living conditions, wages, food, and captivity, that have troubled the plant for months?
  3. The documentation shows that SGS auditors produced daily reports for Choice Canning that raised a number of sanitation, food safety and processing issues. These daily internal reports differ starkly however from the annual public-facing reports from SGS that typically identified few if any problems at the plant, giving it a clean bill of health. Can you clarify why there was such a disparity between these two types of audit reports?
  4. Shipping antibiotic-positive shrimp seems to be a violation not just of BAP rules but also of FDA rules. Why is the company supplied by farms that are not included in the BAP list and why is “oscar” or antibiotic positive shrimp sometimes being sent to U.S. buyers?

Please let us know your answers to these questions by close of business on March 12, 2024. Please also note that we will need for all our interactions to remain on record and in writing."

The Outlaw Ocean Project sent a letter with the same text as the March 5, 2024, email to Choice Canning's U.S. headquarters. The letter also noted that an email had been sent to three specific email addresses for Choice Canning management on March 5, 2024.

The law firm Archer & Greiner P.C, acting for Choice Canning, emailed a letter on behalf of Choice Canning. The email included the following 13 attachments: Exhibit A; Exhibit B; Exhibit C; Exhibit D; Exhibit E; Exhibit F; Exhibit G-1; Exhibit G-2; Exhibit H-1; Exhibit H-2; Exhibit H-3; Exhibit H-4; Exhibit H-5

The letter said:

"This firm represents Choice Canning Company Inc. (“Choice”). As further explained below, the conclusions advanced in your email correspondence to Choice dated March 5, 2024 are not correct, and are just plainly false. It appears that Joshua Farinella has had a key role to bring false issues to you and to misled you to believe Choice has engaged in conduct amounting to violations of law, regulation, or otherwise. We address your points and invite you to provide the items requested below so we can further address any conclusion you have made about Choice. Choice takes its business and its compliance seriously, and regards itself as a stellar and exemplary member of the community. Choice will not allow false information to stand related to its business and business practices, and will defend its business standing and reputation at all costs.

In addition, it has come to Choice’s attention today, that despite providing Choice with a deadline of March 12, 2024 at 5:00 pm ET to respond to your email, you and your organization has taken it upon itself to unilaterally email Choice’s customers, spreading the false and defamatory “findings” contained in your March 5, 2024 email, and requesting that Choice’s customers respond to your false information by March 15, 2024. Your actions in contacting Choice’s customers with a one-sided false and defamatory narrative, without first receiving Choice’s response are malicious and tortious. Among other things, your actions constitute tortious interference with business relations, tortious interference with contract, libel and defamation. You must cease and desist the spreading of false information to Choice’s customers, or legal action will need to be taken address these unlawful actions.

By way of background, Choice was founded in 1953 and has been selling frozen shrimp since 1957 to customers located in the United States. Choice began as a family-owned business farming shrimp in a small village located in South India and is proudly maintained as a family- owned business despite becoming one of the largest wholesale sellers of frozen shrimp in the world. Choice now provides frozen shrimp throughout the United States in over 48,000 retail and food-service locations. Today, Choice’s mission remains the same since its founding: an unwavering commitment to providing a wholesome dining experience to all – right from the comfort of home. Choice embraces vertically-integrated production to ensure top-quality sustainable ingredients, advantages in cost-effectiveness, and unparalleled quality control all the way from farm to fork. Anything close to what you have alleged has not occurred, and falsely paints and pictures Choice as a company that engages in illegal and unethical business practices. Choice would never condone or participate in such activities.

Mr. Farinella is not credible for many reasons. Mr. Farinella has an extensive criminal record, which the law recognizes as a factor when assessing credibility, and to deem statements made by such a person not reliable. Any representations that he made to you regarding Choice, and any documents he provided to you, should not be relied upon.

Mr. Farinella has an extensive criminal record most notably with multiple guilty pleas to felony fraud and deception crimes. Mr. Farinella has willfully deceived you to think Choice is a company that engages in illegal and unlawful business practices. His deception of you is tantamount to a felony crime of fraud and deception, something Mr. Farinella seems to be very adept at doing up to the point of getting caught and convicted by law enforcement on multiple occasions. Notably, before hiring Mr. Farinella, Choice was not aware of Mr. Farinella’s extensive criminal record with multiple felony convictions pertaining to fraud, deception, and theft.

First, on August 1, 2007, Mr. Farinella was criminally charged in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania with Theft By Deception and Identity Theft, Case Number MJ-45102-CR-0000474- 2007. These charges were apparently removed from the local magistrate and elevated to the county level, as his criminal record indicates he was charged with Felony Identity Theft on August 1, 2007 and Felony Theft By Unlawful Taking, Case Numbers CP-35-CR-0002374-2007 and CP-35-CR- 0002375-2007. Mr. Farinella pled guilty to both of these felony criminal charges on November 9, 2010.

Second, on March 15, 2010, Mr. Farinella was criminally charged in Luzerne County with the Felony crime of Access Device Fraud – Revoked or Cancelled. The case number is CP-40- CR-0001807-2010. A search reveals that access device fraud occurs when one obtain or tries to obtain another person’s property, money or services without their permission, by using an access device that the person knows is: (1) Counterfeit, altered or incomplete, (2) Issued to another person who has not authorized its use, (3) Revoked or canceled, or (4) In any way unauthorized by the issuer or device holder. An example of access device fraud is if one steals a credit card belonging to a coworker and uses that card to make personal purchases without permission. Mr. Farinella pled guilty to Felony Access Device Fraud on August 18, 2010.

Third, on March 23, 2010, Mr. Farinella was criminally charged in Luzerne County with the Felony crime of Theft By Deception – False Impression, Case Number CP-40-CR-0001691- 2010. Mr. Farinella pled guilty to Felony Theft By Deception on August 18, 2010.

Fourth, on March 25, 2010, Mr. Farinella was criminally charged with Theft By Deception in Lackawanna County, Case Number CP-35-CR-0000944-2010. Mr. Farinella was apparently moving from county to county stealing and defrauding others in short succession. Mr. Farinella pled guilty to his crime on November 18, 2010.

Fifth, on March 30, 2010, Mr. Farinella was criminally charged with Theft By Deception – False Impression in Luzerne County, Case Number CP-40-CR-0001558-2010. Mr. Farinella pled guilty to his crime on August 18, 2010. Sixth, on April 17, 2010, Mr. Farinella was criminally charged in Lackawanna County with the crime of writing bad checks, another deception/theft crime, Case Number CP-35-CR-0001307- 2010. Mr. Farinella pled guilty to his crime on October 18, 2010.

Seventh, on May 12, 2014, Mr. Farinella was charged in Lackawanna County with the summary offense of criminal mischief/damaging property intentionally, recklessly, or negligently, Case Number CP-35-CR-0001056-2014. Mr. Farinella pled guilty to this offense on September 11, 2014.

It’s clear that Mr. Farinella has previously engaged in conduct amounting to criminal Theft By Deception and Fraud on many instances, and it seems he has done so again here with you and your organization, providing false and misleading information and deceiving you about Choice, its operations and conduct.

We are submitting this reply to you to clear any conclusions you have made that Choice has acted unlawfully or illegally. Choice however is at a severe disadvantage as it does not have all the information you reference in your email and therefore cannot fully reply and explain to you to clarify any perceived illegal conduct or action. To the extent any doubt remains, we request you to provide further follow up a data so Choice can answer you.

Based on the information provided here, your “findings” should not be part of any story or otherwise disseminated because they are false and defamatory to Choice. I will address your bullet-point “findings” one by one:

  1. Document falsification by Choice Canning management to mislead auditors about where it sources shrimp and the true count of employees on-site;

RESPONSE: This “finding” is categorically false, baseless, and defamatory. Choice’s shrimp is sustainably-sourced and all related documentation correctly shows the source of the various shrimp and how it was shipped. Absolutely no documents have been falsified. If you have documentary proof of a “document falsification” Choice would like to see it to answer you directly, as there is clearly a wrong conclusion, likely due to the convicted felon Mr. Farinella.

As to the number of employees on-site, you have also been misled by Mr. Farinella. The employee count various day to day based on Choice’s estimated labor needs. A large portion of Choice’s workforce consists of contract-workers which have daily turnover, based upon Choice’s labor needs. Choice’s facility in Amalapuram has capacity to hold over 600 employees, but the actual number of workers in the plant can greatly vary on any given day depending on Choice’s labor needs for that day.

Your March 5, 2024 email falsely implies that Choice’s audits are announced, and this is how Choice can allegedly deceive its auditors. Many audits that Choice receives are unannounced. Attached as Exhibit A is the cover page from Choice’s most recent BAP audit, which clearly indicates it was unannounced. During these audits, the auditing firm counts the employees present. For reasons previously explained, the employee count can dramatically vary on a day-to- day basis, thus, various audits may report different numbers of Choice employees.

  1. Decisions by senior Choice Canning management to ship to customers in the U.S. shrimp that it knows to be antibiotic-positive;

RESPONSE: This “finding” is also categorically false, baseless, and defamatory. Choice has an unblemished record in the shrimping industry. In the 67 years that Choice has shipped shrimp to the United States, Choice has never once received a citation or had a shrimp shipment rejected based on an FDA inspection or otherwise showing that Choice had shipped antibiotic positive shrimp to the United States. This is because Choice has high inspection standards, the benchmark in the industry, and no shrimp is ever shipped to customers that are antibiotic positive, as you have falsely concluded.

We suspect based on your email and citation to “Oscar” that Mr. Farinella is willfully and maliciously misleading you about the meaning of Choice’s OSCAR policy to create the impression that Choice is authorizing the release of antibiotic positive shrimp to be shipped to the United States. Among other things, you referenced reviewing WhatsApp messages. Attached as Exhibit B is a screenshot of a WhatsApp message between Mr. Farinella and a Choice’s senior manager, where he is asking if “Oscar” shrimp can be shipped to the United States and the receives permission for Choice to do so.

All this means is that the shrimp failed the initial antibiotic screening called ELISA, but then went through further testing and a more vigorous confirmation screening process called LCMSMS which confirmed the shrimp was negative for antibiotics. ELISA which is an initial testing procedure is not at precise as LCMSMS and can have false positives. Choice is unique in the industry in that it internally tests all of its shrimp via ELISA, and if any shrimp test positive for antibiotics, the shrimp are sent to a third-party NABL accredited lab which runs the more extensive and precise LCMSMS test, which is binary (pass – no antibiotics; fail – antibiotics present). As per Choice’s attached OSCAR policy, attached as Exhibit C, shrimp that either: (1) tests positive on ELISA for antibiotics but then tests negative in the confirmatory LCMSMS test, or (2) falsely tests positive on ELISA, subsequently tests negative on ELISA, and also tests negative in the confirmatory LCMSMS test, are cleared to be sold commercially because it is confirmed they have no antibiotics.

OSCAR is a policy developed by Choice to assure no antibiotic positive shrimp is sold to customers. Choice prides itself in having such a policy and system in place.

As per Choice’s OSCAR policy, initially, once shrimp tests positive on ELISA, it is flagged as “OSCAR” by Choice’s Quality Assurance department and isolated until follow up confirmatory LCMSMS tests are performed. Shrimp that pass the LCMSMS testing are cleared to be sold commercially, but only after senior management gives final clearance. Shrimp that fail the LCMSMS testing are either sold to a shell waste contractor, who accepts it for making chitin, or destroyed. Due to this, Choice’s senior management must manually approve any requests for OSCAR product to be sold, because senior management must verify that the product passed the confirmatory LCMSMS test and are antibiotic-free.

It is this extensive antibiotic testing and verification process, unique in the shrimping industry, which is why Choice proudly has never had a single shipment of shrimp imported to the United States ever rejected for containing antibiotics in 67 years of shipments. You may and should randomly inspect and test any Choice shrimp shipment to the United States at any point in time and it is assured that the shrimp will be antibiotic-free.

It is clear Mr. Farinella has deceived you in explaining that OSCAR means something else than what it is. He has shown you a WhatsApp message to trick you to conclude that he is being told by Choice senior management to ship to the United States antibiotic positive shrimp. This conduct is tantamount to criminal deception, a history to which Mr. Farinella has, and has been convicted of such a crime.

We pause here for a moment to highlight and reflect upon what convicted felon Mr. Farinella has done here to mislead and deceive you, and ask you to do the same. We ask you to reassess whether anything he has told you or cause you to review or investigate should be given even a scintilla of credence. Based on how Mr. Farinella has manipulated OSCAR here with you, there should be no consideration given to anything Mr. Farinella has proffered to you or provided any information.

  1. Contradictory documentation by SGS auditors, with SGS reports produced for Choice Canning’s internal use raising concerns about unsanitary production conditions, while SGS reports for external review raised no such issues and instead supported BRCGS and BAP certification of Choice Canning;

RESPONSE: As with other “findings” this one is false, baseless, and defamatory. SGS is a company Choice voluntarily hired to hold Choice to the highest standards possible for hygiene, cleanliness, etc. SGS operates as an internal “quality police” and monitoring and reporting daily to ensure Choice meets the highest standards. The internal SGS reports are generated by their QA department. The external SGS reports are written by their auditing department.

Critically, the external-facing BAP audit is pass or fail in various categories. On the other hand, the voluntary daily inspections and reports are intended to create the highest of standards well beyond and above a BAP pass or fail standard. The reason why Choice voluntarily pays for SGS to inspect its facility daily and issue daily reports is so that Choice can implement corrective actions to ensure it has highest of standards. This is an ongoing process.

Contrary to your contentions, the external-facing BAP audits do not claim that Choice has perfect operations. The issues recorded in SGS’s internal reports are promptly addressed by Choice. As noted, these vigorous daily reports are meant to put Choice well above the “pass” standard for various categories in the BAP audit. This is because Choice is dedicated to ensuring its customers enjoy the highest-possible quality product, and the same reason why Choice is an industry leader. Thus, you have been completely misled by Mr. Farinella and whatever review you have done, as to the purpose of the voluntary internal SGS daily reports, and there is no contradiction between these reports and the external-facing BAP audit.

  1. Senior Choice Canning management approving the underpayment of workers, and complaints to local police by workers who did not receive payment or who received payment long after it was due; RESPONSE: Once again, this “finding” is false, baseless, and defamatory. You have been misled by convicted multiple-time Felon Mr. Farinella and doing an incomplete investigation. If you have any evidence of senior Choice management “approving the underpayment of workers” please provide it, but we are sure you cannot, as none exists. As mentioned, many of Choice’s workers are temporary and are employed through third-party labor contractors. Choice always has made every single wage payment to a contractor on time.

There was however, a single instance with a new contractor where Choice discovered that the contractor had not distributed wages to workers, despite being timely and fully paid by Choice. The police investigated the contractor, not Choice. You reference a local news report on this incident, and it is true that a local news source initially provided incorrect information. Presumably, this was the only news report that Mr. Farinella provided to you, in order to mislead and deceive you, as he is very apt at doing.

What Mr. Farinella did not mention and you did not find, was the very next day the same news source printed a corrected article, which cleared the record, cleared Choice of any wrongdoing, noted that the police forced the contractor to pay the workers their wages inside the police station. Attached as Exhibit D please find the original Hindi news article on the incident and Exhibit E is the English translation.

Of course, once this issue was brought to Choice’s attention, Choice terminated the contractor. To date no such incident has occurred again. The assertation that senior Choice management “approv[ed] the underpayment of workers” is recklessly false and defamatory.

  1. Choice Canning staff complaints about inadequate living conditions on-site, including worker dorms without proper bedding, or with unhygienic canteen food,

RESPONSE: Once again, this “finding” is false, baseless, and defamatory. For your information, Choice is one of the few shrimp processors to have passed the highly demanding BSCI social audit, conducted by the Belgian firm Amfori. The “social” audit consists in large part of interviewing large numbers of Choice’s workers, along with a complete inspection of the premises. Attached as Exhibit F is a copy of Choice’s “social audit” in which it received an overall grade of A. Choice takes great provide in providing a work environment that is best in the industry, and can demonstrate this too.

We do not know which purported or the number of alleged current or former Choice employees you have interviewed, but we cannot reply further unless you give us more information. Also, if you have specific evidence to rebut the attached social audit, please provide it, we are confident the audit will stand as it is a true reflection of how Choice treats its workers.

  1. Workers being prevented from leaving the site of their own volition;

RESPONSE: It should not be a surprise to hear that once again this “finding” is false, baseless, and defamatory. Choice is aware of a single incident in which a contract worker wanted to leave the premises, at 2:30 a.m. For safety reasons, she was told not to leave at that time, and that Choice would assist her and cover all her travel costs to leave in the morning. The local area is simply not safe for an unaccompanied worker to leave in the middle of the night. The next morning, Choice arranged and paid for the worker’s travel expenses. The worker thereafter traveled safely and soundly back to her village. Accordingly, there are not “workers” that are being prevented from leaving the site, such a conclusion is recklessly false. As explained, there was a single incident with a single worker that was quickly resolved, and for the workers own safety and well-being because Choice cares about its workers. If you have any evidence to the contrary, please provide it, and Choice will respond further.

  1. Choice Canning’s ongoing use of unsanitary off-site peeling sheds which it concealed from auditors;

RESPONSE: This “finding” is also false, baseless, and defamatory. Choice utilized an off-site facility for a brief period of time, to address a labor shortage. Choice utilized a contractor’s facility and contract labor to provide the work. This occurred from approximately January 2024 – February 2024.

Critically, your email fails to appreciate that Choice has customers who purchase non-BAP shrimp in addition to its customers who purchase BAP shrimp. It is entirely appropriate for Choice to source and process non-BAP shrimp so long as this product is not labeled as BAP to its customers. Choice appropriately follows all applicable guidelines and does not label its shrimp as BAP for its customers that order non-BAP shrimp; to the contrary, shrimp sent to customers who order non-BAP shrimp are sent in bags that clearly do not contain the BAP stamp anywhere on the packaging.

The single off-site peeling shed (not sheds) you mention was solely used, for a brief period of time, to process non-BAP shrimp. Thus, it naturally was not included as part of Choice’s BAP audits.

Moreover, Choice is not aware of any unsanitary conditions, and the shed has not been used since March 1, 2024. This is because Choice is winding down operations in the area and preparing to move into a brand-new state of the art facility to be discussed in more detail later in this response. Attached as Exhibit G are photographs of the currently-unused facility belonging to a third-party and there are no hygiene problems. But, as mentioned, since no BAP-shrimp were processed through this facility, it is irrelevant, and your “findings” are false and misleading.

  1. Understatement of the number of workers based at the plant and the temporary relocation of some of those workers when auditors visited so as to give a false picture;

RESPONSE: This “finding” is false, baseless and defamatory and was already addressed above. See Choice’s response to your first “finding.”

  1. Repeated complaints from people living near Choice’s Amalapuram plant of pollution causing health problems in the community;

RESPONSE: This finding is false, baseless, and defamatory. First, it is not “Choice’s” plant. The plant belongs to a third-party and Choice merely leased it since June 2022. When Choice first moved into the facility in June 2022, it was not aware that there was apparently a history of complaints by local residents against the owner pertaining to the shrimp factory. Specifically, their complaints were about the smell generated from the processing of shrimp. After these complaints, Choice took action to address these unexpected issues and undisclosed complaints by fixing the effluent treatment plant used to process shrimp.

In part, due to these concerns, and before your correspondence, Choice had already served the factory owner with a lease termination notice and is moving out and winding down its operations. Choice will fully terminate all operations in the area by May 2024. Choice highly values the community and the community that it operated in, and has a stellar reputation in all locations where it has its facilities.

  1. “Gift” payments to local officials that some might view as bribes.

RESPONSE: This finding is false, baseless, and defamatory.

Contrary to the implications in your email, Mr. Farinella did not voluntarily resign from his employment with Choice. When Mr. Farinella reported to Choice’s U.S. facility to turn in his laptop, he informed Choice’s Operations Manager that: “I knew I was going to be fired” and this is why he quit. Mr. Farinella knew his termination was imminent due to severe performance issues, including a near-total lack of performance of his job functions.

Your email states that Mr. Farinella has filed a federal whistleblower action. Choice is not aware of a whistleblower complaint that Mr. Farinella or anyone has filed with the US federal authorities. We invite you to send such a complaint to our attention, if you have one, as there is no basis whatsoever to bring one. Choice reserves all legal rights against the multiple-convicted Felon Mr. Farinella for filing a false federal complaint against Choice, if your statement is accurate. If Mr. Farinella has filed one, Choice will vigorously defend it and will defeat it, as it is baseless.

As for your pointed questions:

Question 1: The company has long been publicly seen as among the most ethical of seafood companies in India, the source of thousands of jobs and generous philanthropy. It has started schools and subsidized the arts, and long touted its certification by industry trade groups as a fair and environmentally responsible employer. But the revelations detailed above seem to deviate significantly from the standards that the company purports to uphold. Can you please respond to all of the listed findings summarized above?

RESPONSE: Your listed “findings” are not accurate, and have been responded to at length. Choice’s longstanding reputation as the most ethical of seafood companies in India is well- deserved, and continues to be a core value of Choice. Choice has a long history of upholding the highest ethical standards, and has engaged in philanthropy such as the philanthropy noted in your email.

These actions and values are what Choice stands for. Not the false and misleading “findings” stated in your email or as has been claimed by the multiple-time convicted Felon Joshua Farinella, who is simply engaging in yet another instance of deceptive conduct.

Question 2: Does Choice Canning have a plan in place to address the worker concerns related to living conditions, wages, food, and captivity, that have troubled the plant for months?

RESPONSE: Choice has not received such alleged “concerns” or “complaints” nor has it been “troubled” by anything. Notwithstanding this, Choice is in the process of constructing a brand- new, state of the art facility located in Baptala, India. Photographs of the new facility are attached as Exhibit H. The facility is scheduled to be operational in May 2024, and Choice accordingly will fully terminate its operations in Mr. Farinella’s former facility by this time. The leased facility was located and used until Choice’s new facility was built, as Choice does not customarily lease its facilities.

Mr. Farinella visited the new facility on numerous occasions and remarked that it was “the best facility I've ever seen in my life.” We are certain Mr. Farinella did not share this with you. Choice’s new facility offers worker accommodations equivalent to a five-star hotel. The new facility supports Choice’s well-deserved ethical reputation and unwavering dedication to the community.

Choice delivers the greatest value in quality for customers and employees. As you noted before, Choice is consistently recognized as being the most ethical seafood company in India, and a leader of quality for employees and customers, because Choice truly is committed to these principles. Moreover, Choice always will continue to be committed to achieving the highest ethical and quality standards.

Question 3: The documentation shows that SGS auditors produced daily reports for Choice Canning that raised a number of sanitation, food safety and processing issues. These daily internal reports differ starkly however from the annual public-facing reports from SGS that typically identified few if any problems at the plant, giving it a clean bill of health. Can you clarify why there was such a disparity between these two types of audit reports?

RESPONSE: This is not true, as noted in Choice’s response to your first “finding” and such statements are false, baseless and defamatory. There were no “disparities.” To reiterate: the vigorous daily SGS internal reports that Choice pays for are done so as have the highest of standards in the industry. Many of Choice’s competitors do not pay for the voluntary internal SGS reports because they do not hold themselves to Choice’s high-quality standards

Question 4: Shipping antibiotic-positive shrimp seems to be a violation not just of BAP rules but also of FDA rules. Why is the company supplied by farms that are not included in the BAP list and why is “oscar” or antibiotic positive shrimp sometimes being sent to U.S. buyers?

RESPONSE: As you are now clearly aware, Choice does not ship antibiotic positive shrimp, period. You were misled by the multiple-time convicted Felon Joshua Farinella as to what OSCAR means. But now that you have been provided with the facts, namely that OSCAR means the opposite of your prior understanding, and statement which is false, baseless and defamatory.

As mentioned, in the 67 years that Choice has shipped shrimp to the United States, Choice has never once received a citation or had a shrimp shipment rejected based on an FDA inspection or otherwise showing that Choice had shipped antibiotic positive shrimp to the United States. This is due to the rigorous and vigilant antibiotic inspection testing that Choice conducts for every single container of shrimp that leaves its facility.

Finally, as noted above, Choice has customers that request BAP shrimp but also has customers that request non-BAP shrimp. This is why Choice sources some of its shrimp from farms not included in the BAP list; because certain of its customers request non-BAP shrimp and Choice fills this demand. In such instances, the packaging is clearly labeled. This is perfectly consistent with BAP rules, which only require that shrimp be sourced from BAP farms for customers that order BAP shrimp.

As you can clearly see from the information provided herein, your reckless and malicious actions in contacting Choice’s customers with a one-sided false and defamatory narrative, without first receiving Choice’s response are legally actionable. Among other things, your actions constitute tortious interference with business relations, tortious interference with contract, libel and defamation. Please confirm you will cease and desist the spreading of false information to Choice’s customers.

We have addressed your email to the extent and best that Choice can, based on the limited information you provide in your email. If there is any doubt we ask you to share your data so we can further respond. Please address to us any follow-up questions you may have to and to review any “evidence” provided to you that you believe supports the false “findings” contained in your March 5, 2024 email correspondence.

Very truly yours, Patrick Papalia Archer & Greiner, P.C.”

A subsequent email was sent to Choice Canning, saying that "we are in the final stages of researching an article for publication about the issues uncovered in The Outlaw Ocean Project’s investigation, which includes the testimony of the former general manager of the plant, Joshua Farinella, and his complaint to the US Food and Drug Administration.

It is clear to us that the subject (the preparation of seafood for export and human consumption) is a matter of public interest. Further, the investigation has uncovered cause for concern in a number of spheres including the apparent approval of management in the shipping of shrimp containing antibiotics, the apparent misleading of auditors and the underpayment of workers.

We have seen the letter dated March 11, 2024, sent by Archer & Greiner PC in response to the letters sent to Choice Canning by Susan Ryan [of The Outlaw Ocean Project] on March 5, 2024.

We have closely considered the responses set out in the Archer & Greiner PC letter together with the Exhibits and have some further questions in relation to these responses, which we set out in this letter.

We were already aware of Mr Farinella’s past convictions, which we will reflect in the article. We do not believe they undermine the credibility of his testimony, which is robustly corroborated.

We also repeat some of the points already put to you in Susan Ryan’s letters, again inviting your response.

To ensure that we can consider your response prior to publication and to enable us to reflect your position in the article if you wish us to do so, please reply by 5pm Eastern Time on Sunday March 17.

We invite your response and clarification on the following matters:

‘Oscar’ Policy We note the ‘Oscar’ policy document (‘Exhibit C’) that you provided, and have a few questions about it:

  1. When did this document come into existence? The metadata on the document suggests it was created on March 11, 2024.
  2. Why is it apparently written on headed paper from the Amulapuram plant and dated 1.4.2022 when, as set out in the Archer & Greiner PC letter, Choice Canning didn’t start leasing the facility until June 2022?
  3. Why is neither this document nor the existence of an “Oscar Policy” mentioned in the company’s BAP audit, in spite of appearing to be a significant part of the production policy process?
  4. Why is the policy called ‘Oscar’?
  5. Who is ████?
  6. Please clarify the circumstances in which Choice Canning staff would refer to products as ‘Oscar’. The Archer & Greiner letter suggests that shrimp was (only) referred to as ‘Oscar’ within Choice Canning if it had tested negative on LCMSMS. (“All this means is that the shrimp failed the initial antibiotic screening called ELISA but then went through further testing and a more vigorous confirmation screening process called LCMSMS which confirmed the shrimp was negative for antibiotics”.) However, the “Oscar Policy” indicates that product is also termed ‘Oscar’ if it FAILS the LCMSMS test (“If a sample FAILS the above retest procedure, the said OSCAR lots are to be rejected at the factory level”)
  7. Do you accept that, as indicated in the Policy, product could be called ‘Oscar’ if it had failed the LCMSMS test?

Antibiotics/WhatsApp exchanges referring to shrimp as ‘Oscar’:

  1. Company documents show that at least 730 tons of antibiotic-positive shrimp passed through Choice Canning’s Amalapuram facility in 2023.
  2. At Choice Canning a term was used to refer to antibiotic-positive shrimp: ‘Oscar’.
  3. On January 25, 2024, Jacob Jose, Choice Canning’s Vice President Sales & Procurement, instructed Mr Farinella by WhatsApp to “Please use the word Oscar lol” when discussing antibiotic-positive shrimp.
  4. In the same WhatsApp message on January 25, 2024, Mr Jose approved the shipment of 300 cases of shrimp that had tested positive for antibiotics. (Mr Farinella messaged Mr Jose at 4.30pm saying: “Got a load I’m putting together now for wakefern. 300 cases of CIST 31/40 for wholesome pantry are AB+. Everything else is good. Can it go?” Mr Jose replied: “How many items total? Please use the word Oscar lol. On the container.” Mr Farinella replied: “Roger. 7 items. 1 Oscar of 300 cases. 400 cases of that item to be loaded.” At 4.32pm Mr Jose replied: “Go ahead.”)
  5. In a WhatsApp message on February 1, 2024, Mr Farinella asked Mr Jose: “Almost 10,000 pounds of Oscar in finished packaging for Wakefern. What to do?” Mr Jose responded: “Ship on one container.”
  6. In a WhatsApp exchange on February 12, 2024, Mr Jose instructed staff to ship 225 cases of raw shrimp bound for Aldi supermarkets in the US which had tested positive for antibiotics (cited as ‘Exhibit B’).
  7. The FDA checks fewer than 1% of the shrimp coming into the United States. According to Mr Farinella, Choice Canning’s attitude towards the chance of antibiotic-positive shrimp getting tested by the FDA and being traced back to the company was “you’re playing the odds, and the odds are very much in your favour”.
  8. According to a report by the Corporate Accountability Lab, an NGO, the presence of antibiotics in shrimp presents a twofold threat: (i) residue of the antibiotics can sicken people who consume it; and (ii) the pathogens the drugs are meant to combat can become resistant to the antibiotics.
  9. We have seen internal company spreadsheets which show that a) between May 25, 2023, and January 31, 2024, at least 22 batches of shrimp tested positive on both ELISA and LCMSMS b) on at least two records, shrimp that had tested positive on both tests were described as “loaded as Oscar”, further suggesting that ‘Oscar’ could refer to shrimp that had tested positive through LCMSMS
  10. One batch, lot A-1643, is marked on an internal record dated November 29, 2023, as testing positive on both ELISA and LCMSMS. On November 30, 2023, Abh██████████ texted a WhatsApp group of plant managers that a batch had tested positive after the shipment had already been loaded onto a shipping container: “Please keep lot no. 1643 in hold as it was found positive for antibiotic from the external lab.”
  11. On December 4, 2023, [a supervisor named Jit███ texted Mr Farinella and stated that “Antibiotic lot 1643 we have produced 801 cs for CPTO 26/30, Southern Seas”. The pair discussed obtaining approval for this to be shipped. (Mr Farinella writes: “Keep them aside for now. I’ll work on getting them approved for shipping”)
  12. On December 6, 2023, Mr Farinella sent Mr Kar██ a message on WhatsApp and relayed to him a directive from Mr Jose to ship the batch out. (“801 cases Southern Seas lot # 1643 Oscar cases good to ship”)
  13. The plant’s December shipping sheet shows it was later shipped on container MNBU9039413 to the United States. Trade records acquired from Import Genius show this container arrived in the United States.

Hiding workers from auditors and falsification of paperwork: We note that your letter of March 11 denies any falsification of worker tallies. However the descriptions of manipulating worker numbers are based on recorded conversations between Choice Canning employees and discrepancies in paperwork. We therefore invite you again to comment on the allegations, specifically that:

  1. Managers gave auditors a figure for the number of workers on site based on what would sound plausible, and, when required, rented a facility to move workers en masse in advance of an inspection. This was in order to avoid awkward questions about underpayment, subpar living conditions or potential fire and safety hazards once auditors saw the number of beds available in the dorms and the space available on the factory floor.
  2. In December 2022, Choice Canning workers were moved off-site to mislead auditors about the true number of workers usually at the factory. The total number of workers ultimately recorded by auditors was 354, even though it was in reality much higher.
  3. On a BAP audit report covering the period October 4-6, 2023, 250 workers are listed as being on site. However, according to the company’s own records there were 436 workers there on October 4, 397 there on October 5, and 469 there on October 6. How do you explain the discrepancy?
  4. In a recording of a meeting on January 23, 2024, between Mr Farinella, Mr ███ and Kir███ a Choice Canning human resources executive, the three discuss how they should handle the Aldi Nord audit scheduled for March 5, 2024. During the conversation, they discuss how many workers they should report to the auditors. Mr ███ says, “We cannot say…220, which they won’t believe. They won’t believe for sure. And so, we need to show a sizable number to them, saying we have, say, 415 workers.” In the same meeting, Mr ███ says about audits, “Even quality or safety audits. It’s not 100 percent realistic. You need to make stories, make proof, convince them. Such circumstances, particularly in Indian circumstances, you cannot be 100 percent accurate. You cannot be more than 70 percent accurate, in my view.”
  5. In another recorded exchange on February 13, 2024, Mr ███ , Mr. ██ , and Mr Farinella can be heard discussing how to present to auditors a view of the plant that showed fewer people working there. “Before the audit day, we have to make some arrangements to send the workers out,” Mr ██ says. “We will arrange somewhere, an accommodation for them, outside for one day. Like, contractors will take care of them.”

The 2024 audit for Aldi: We note your response of March 11 that many audits were unannounced. However we have seen at least one email from a major client announcing its audit. We therefore ask you again to respond to the allegations about preparations for the audit.

  1. In a discussion on January 27, 2024, about an upcoming audit for Aldi, Kir██ told Mr Farinella that some workers would need to be relocated to reduce the number on-site during the audit to an acceptable level. This was estimated to be 415.
  2. During a conversation between Mr Farinella and quality assurance officer Sre██ on January 23, 2024, to discuss the upcoming audit by Aldi, Mr Farinella was instructed to move a proportion of the workforce to a different building out of sight of the auditors for the duration of the auditors’ visit. The purpose of this was to hide the true number of people working at the plant from the auditors. Sre███ said to him "manage your workforce that day."
  3. When asked about how the idea to temporarily relocate workers was devised, Mr ██ said “JT [Choice Canning CEO Jose Thomas] is keeping a knife on my neck.”.
  4. Choice Canning staff falsified paperwork and moved workers offsite to hide the facility’s true numbers during an Aldi audit on March 5, 2024.
  5. After the audit was conducted, two managers corroborated in writing that workers were moved offsite to conceal their presence from auditors.

The use of off-site peeling sheds: We note your letter of March 11 says that only one off-site shed was used for a few weeks in early 2024 for non BAP-certified products. However we have seen extensive internal documentation showing there were two sheds (“OPPC 1” and “OPPC 2”) and that one of them, in Tallarevu, was in use in 2023. An Outlaw Ocean Project videographer visited one of the sheds. We have also seen evidence which suggests that output from the facilities was used for BAP-certified products. So we ask you to consider again our understanding of conditions in the sheds and what they were used for.

  1. Hundreds of other people worked offsite at illegal peeling sheds off site. According to documents from the plant the two sheds together processed 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of shrimp per day or close to half of the shrimp that the company shipped to the US.
  2. While workers on the official processing floor are dressed head-to-toe in protective gowns and masks there is no such clothing at the sheds, where workers sometimes wear just a mask and a single pair of thin blue gloves. There is no chlorine bath, unlike on the official processing floor. Mr Farinella found the sinks at one of the sheds he visited to be bone dry, suggesting few were opting to wash their hands.
  3. Mr Farinella describes the off-site peeling sheds as “ungoverned, unregulated and a breeding ground for every foodborne illness imaginable.”
  4. On January 29, 2024, in a WhatsApp group of Choice staffers at the Amalapuram plant, production manager Seb████ asks for a report on the quantity of shrimp sent to the external peeling sheds: “Give details of qty sent to external ppc,” he wrote. Mai███████ , a Choice Canning manager, responds with a photo of a handwritten sheet of notes detailing the quantity. On it, he lists “52c RPD 51/60,” a 52-count batch of raw, peeled, deveined, tail-off shrimp. According to an internal production sheet we have seen, the only customer for that product is Hello Fresh, which only sells BAP-approved shrimp.

Pay and conditions: The number of workers on site:

  1. Mr Farinella has told us that on any given day there could be as many as 1,000 workers on site, twice what could be properly housed in the dormitories or safely managed on the factory floors.
  2. On January 26, 2024, Mr Farinella climbed a flight of stairs in the plant’s ammonia systems building and found a dozen additional workers sleeping on the floor in a hidden Dorm.

Pay and living conditions:

  1. Labour contractor invoices and emails show Choice Canning workers were paid less than the daily minimum required by Indian regulations (350 rather than 450 rupees per day), and have pay deducted for food and lodging.
  2. Exchanges between Mr Farinella and senior management in December 2023 show Mr Thomas denying knowledge of this underpayment and being reminded by managers in India that he had indeed been previously informed. (On December 15, 2023, Mr Thomas declares that he is “shocked” they have not been paying minimum wages at the plant. Vid███ , Vice President of Human Resources at Choice Canning, responds a few hours later saying, “Recently when we revised the wages at Kochi, we did have an in person discussion about revising at Amalapuram too, and after thoughtfully considering that Amalapuram would only be temporary you had advised that we should ensure full compliance when we move to Bapatla only so not to make any changes in Amalapuram for time being”.)
  3. In January 2024, a number of workers marched to a local police station and reported what they said was the theft of their wages.
  4. On January 4th 2024, Mr Farinella met with the labour contractor in charge of paying workers. This contractor disclosed that he was withholding the wages to incentivize workers to return to work the following week.
  5. We note your explanation in your letter of March 11 that Choice Canning terminated its relationship with a contractor whose late payment caused some workers to stage a protest in January. However we have also seen documentation that the contractor (Ram██████ ) continued to supply workers to Choice up until at least February 13, 2024. Emails sent by Choice staff in November 2023 show they were aware of another contractor, Ram██ , not having paid workers for months.
  6. There were daily discussions between plant managers in group WhatsApp conversations about subpar living conditions for the employees living on site. At one point, Mr Farinella was sent a photograph of a worm found in workers’ food. Another day, a manager sent him a photo of bedbugs - part of an infestation of more than 500 mattresses. Mr Farinella soon found workers laying on the floor, using only their shirts as pillows. “We need more bunk beds immediately, this cannot wait for another day please!,” the plant’s Vice President of human resources wrote angrily in an email requesting more beds for the workers. “Existing people are facing trouble for months.”
  7. A human resources executive admitted candidly in a meeting that Mr Farinella recorded that, ahead of a supermarket audit, she had fabricated attendance records and timecards.

Concerns over workers not being allowed to leave the plant / not free to come and go:

  1. We note Archer & Greiner’s response to the concerns about the woman trying to leave the plant in the middle of the night. We wonder however why, if she was both keen and free to leave, she attempted to exit during the night?
  2. Please could you identify how in practice migrant workers who live at the plant enter and exit the plant and whether this is controlled or restricted in any way. Please provide as much detail as possible.
  3. In a Choice document titled “Employee Lodging Policy,” it says that workers are not allowed to leave without “permission from the Factory Head / Administration Manager.'" Can you tell us whether you believe that, under Indian law, it’s legal to forbid workers from leaving their workplace of their volition at any time they choose?
  4. What is your response to the fact that a welfare manager has indicated that an opening in the compound’s concrete fence which used to allow people to exit has now been closed and that now “we have fencing so no one can go out”?
  5. The same manager said that employees needed a pass from their contractor to leave the plant for any reason such as a medical appointment

Lack of time off for female workers:

  1. On January 30, 2024, two Choice Canning staff approached Mr Farinella to discuss scheduling an outing for 150 of the female workers. One of the men confirmed in a conversation recorded by Mr Farinella that the workers hadn’t had a day off in over a year. When Mr Farinella raised the matter with Kir███ , a human resources executive, he was told the women had to work so that the shrimp didn’t spoil.
  2. The workforce at the plant was hired through contractors. It consisted of several local workers who left at the end of their shifts and several hundred on-site labourers, mostly women from impoverished parts of the country.
  3. A review of contractor invoices from the plant showed that some women worked 360 days a year.

Document falsification and BAP certification:

  1. Certifications awarded by a leading trade group monitoring outfit called Best Aquaculture Practices (‘BAP’). According to Mr Farinella, BAP oversight was "a farce." Specifically, he faults the auditors' assurance that the local farms supplied Choice Canning with shrimp free of contaminants and antibiotics.
  2. In recorded conversations, managers at the plant said they merely asserted on paperwork that the farms they were using were BAP-certified, but virtually none of them actually were.
  3. On February 7, 2024, quality assurance officer Sre████ told Mr Farinella by text: “We never buy shrimp from BAP farms. All are local, unregistered farms.” Sre███ added: “You can imagine the level of documentation skills QA possesses to bring them to BAP compliance.” He said: “It has always been so.”
  4. In an email conversation between Mr ███ and other managers on January 23, 2024 he talks explicitly about sending shrimp destined for Aldi in Europe to be sent via Cochin as the Amalapuram plant “doesn’t have EU approval to ship aquaculture shrimp.”

Global Seafood Alliance sponsorship: We understand that Choice became a member of the Global Seafood Alliance after paying for a $75,000 “Platinum Sponsorship” of the Global Seafood Alliance’s GOAL summit event in 2022.

Two sets of audit reports produced by SGS:

  1. SGS, the firm hired to audit BAP compliance, produced two kinds of reports on Choice Canning. One was public facing and gave them a clean bill of health. One was private and contained photographs of problems, with captions citing a litany of sanitary and food safety issues at the on-site peeling shed including spoilage smell, flies, “slime”, “sludge”, lack of proper icing, broken refrigerators, algae and fungus on machines, hair and black spots on shrimp, and a full chewing-tobacco spitoon in the factory area.
  2. Although the public-facing report was primarily about giving a pass/fail assessment, as pointed out in the letter of March 11, it also contained commentary on the ongoing standards (eg “the processing, storage areas within the site observed to be maintained at a satisfactory level of hygiene and cleanliness with respect to food safety during audit”), which was markedly different from its private commentaries criticising the standards of hygiene and cleanliness at the plant. How do you explain this?


  1. Choice Canning exported 19 million pounds of packaged shrimp from India to America in 2023. The firm’s customers that year included Walmart and Price Chopper, ShopRite and Hannaford.
  2. We understand that Choice Canning supplies Aldi supermarkets in the USA.

Choice Canning, the Thomas family and Jose Thomas:

  1. Choice Canning has long been publicly seen as amongst the most ethical of seafood companies in India, the source of thousands of jobs and generous philanthropy. Its holdings include a construction operation and a luxury marina.
  2. Today, the corporation is run by Jose Thomas (who goes by JT), the CEO of Choice Canning.
  3. Mr Thomas, in public speaking engagements and writings on Choice Canning’s website, portrays himself as devoted to quality, safety, and the stewardship of a proud and principled global business.
  4. Choice Canning’s promotional materials boast that it was one of the first companies in the country to establish an integrated and automated factory to produce ready-to-eat shrimp sold in retail stores at home and abroad.
  5. More recently, in November 2022, Choice Canning announced it was the first Indian company to become a corporate member of the Global Seafood Alliance, an industry body that says it aims to “advance responsible seafood practices worldwide through education, advocacy and demonstration.”
  6. The Thomas family has become a prominent benefactor in India, creating a charitable foundation that has given rise to a private school and the construction of a 600-seat theatre called the Jose Thomas Performing Arts Centre.
  7. Mr Thomas wrote on his website: “I firmly believe that putting your foot forward is the first step toward your destination. Mahatma Gandhi did that. Mother Teresa did that, and now, I, too, make a beginning.”
  8. Mr Thomas said to Mr Farinella in a phone call on February 6, 2024: “I have hired you to make money for the company. I don’t know what your January results are. You should be more concerned than I am.”
  9. Mr Thomas made veiled threats to fire Mr Farinella.
  10. In the same phone call Mr Thomas said: “Make money through yield, make money through procurement, make money through cost control, make money through selling out, if you don't ship out on time this interest costs. In the same meeting Mr Jose said “the only way you can control profitability is the yield.”
  11. In a WhatsApp message to staff on October 26, 2023, Mr Thomas wrote: “I heard today we have to throw away product in USA worth about $80,000 because at store level, consumers [complained] of rotten smell.” Mr Thomas often appears to have been incensed by hygiene and other shortcomings at the plant, saying at one point that whoever was responsible for problems with cold storage would “suffer in life.”

I await your response."

The law firm Archer & Greiner P.C, acting for Choice Canning, emailed a letter on behalf of Choice Canning. The email included the following attachments: Exhibit A; Exhibit B; Exhibit C; Exhibit D; Exhibit E; Exhibit F; Exhibit G; Exhibit H; Exhibit I; Exhibit J; Exhibit K; Exhibit L

“As you know, this firm represents Choice Canning Company Inc. (“Choice”). We are in receipt of your letter dated March 14, 2024. Please accept this letter in response to your letter.

As explained in my letter to the Outlaw Ocean Project (“Outlaw”) and as elaborated further herein, there is no basis for the conclusions made in your letter. Your letter paints the picture that Choice pursues profit over the quality and sanitation of its food, along with the physical well-being of its workers. This is not a truthful story. You are hereby placed on notice that anything that is printed by your organization and Outlaw which advances the conclusions that Choice is engaging in the sale of antibiotic-positive shrimp to customers located in the United States or elsewhere, not following BAP procedures, is falsifying documents, forbidding workers from leaving the premises, or other conclusions contained in your letter, is publishing information that is knowingly false, and published with a reckless disregard for the truth. Choice is prepared to proceed forward with a lawsuit filing against your organization, Outlaw, Ian Urbina, and any and all other responsible parties for any false published stories.

I asked you to provide the full record of the data you have, such as the recordings, documents, etc., that you are relying on in your March 14, 2024 letter, so we can fully reply to you. Despite these requests, you emailed me on Friday indicating and requesting Choice to provide specific requests for you to consider. You provided nothing to date, even though your March 14, 2024 letter makes numerous baseless allegations and claims with specific references to recordings, quotes and documents. Your refusal to provide this data puts Choice at a disadvantage as it cannot fully reply to your baseless allegations. Whether this refusal is intentional — as it has become clear you and Outlaw are pursuing an agenda to publish a purported sensational but false story in disregard of the truth — or by sheer negligence, it is inexcusable and makes providing you with a complete, thorough reply not possible. I reiterate my request to you to immediately produce all the data you have referenced and Outlaw has referenced in your writings to Choice that you are relying upon.

Moreover, in addition to providing the foregoing requested evidence, if you have any genuine doubt as to the veracity of Choice’s responses and the rejection of the baseless conclusions, Choice welcomes and extends an open invitation to you and Outlaw to visit Choice’s facilities and BAP-certified farms where it sources shrimp. Choice has nothing to hide. This will unequivocally demonstrate to you and Outlaw that Choice is a lawful and ethical company that follows all rules and is a leading well-recognized food and shrimp distributor based on its vigilant and diligent compliance with quality control and procedures.

Also, while your March 14, 2024 letter downplays the significance of Joshua Farinella’s extensive record of felony crimes of deception and fraud for your narrative, you letter relies heavily on him for your statements and allegations. You simply cannot separate Joshua Farinella’s extensive criminal felony history of engaging in crimes of deceit and fraud from your statements and claims, and turn a blind eye the truth. The fact that you and Outlaw are doing so underscores the agenda driven purpose behind your story, rather than an objective of printing a truthful narrative.

With the forgoing in mind, the following addresses your myriad of false allegations, findings and conclusions.

OSCAR POLICY/ANTIBIOTICS/WHATSAPP EXCHANGES, ALLEGED DOCUMENT FALSIFICATION AND BAP CERTIFICATION Choice's Vigilant And Industry Leading Testing Procedures To Assure Its BAP Certified Shrimp Does Not Have Antibiotics

Choice is the only Indian shrimping company to utilize a mobile lab, engaging in pre-harvesting testing at the farmer level to test its BAP-certified shrimp for antibiotics prior to purchasing shrimp from the farm. Attached as Exhibit A, please find representative photographs of Choice’s mobile testing lab. This is so Choice can take preventative steps against purchasing antibiotic-positive shrimp from a farm and transporting the shrimp to its plant. Ask yourself, if Choice was in fact seeking increased profits at the cost of food safety, and looking to “gamble” that the FDA won’t discover during an FDA audit or inspection antibiotic-positive shrimp, as you recklessly state, why would Choice spend the funds to implement this pre-harvest testing procedure to establish a testing standard above and beyond any other Indian company? You should seriously consider this question and review the manipulated and wrong information you have been provided, (and that you have not provided to us despite being requested to do so) by Joshua Farinella and make the proper conclusion that your assertions to the contrary, that Choice sends antibiotic-positive shrimp to the United States, are untruthful.

As you know, in the 67 years that Choice has shipped shrimp to the United States, Choice has never once received a citation or had a shrimp shipment rejected based on an FDA inspection or otherwise showing that Choice had shipped antibiotic positive shrimp to the United States.

Choice’s has unparalleled six-level set of quality and food safety standards. This six-level process in unmatched by any other Indian shrimping company. First, as mentioned, Choice utilizes a mobile lab to engage in pre-harvesting testing of shrimp at the farm level prior to purchasing BAP-certified shrimp. Second, Choice’s Quality Assurance (“QA”) team conducts its own internal audits of its various BAP-certified farms, to ensure these farms reach Choice’s demanding quality and safety standards. Attached as Exhibit G please find Choice’s internal audit forms completed by its QA team for the audits it conducts on its BAP-supplier farms. Third, Choice conducts internal ELISA screening for antibiotics on the raw material (shrimp) that arrives at its facility. Fourth, Choice conducts internal ELISA screening for antibiotics on the material after it is processed. Fifth, for any material that fails the ELISA screening at the raw or processed level, Choice sends the material to a third-party NABL accredited lab which runs the more exacting confirmatory LCMSMS test. Finally, Choice employs SGS to conduct extensive internal daily inspections and daily reports to hold Choice to the highest of quality and safety standards. These six levels of safety and quality standards alone demonstrate that the false allegations and manipulated data fed to you by Joshua Farinella are entirely false and baseless.

Your claim that “at least 730 tons of antibiotic-positive shrimp passed through Choice Canning’s Amalapuram facility in 2023” is false. You appear to be relying on spreadsheets that Joshua Farinella has manipulated, or provided you with false information as to their meaning. Anyone can write anything in an Excel spreadsheet. You and Outlaw do not understand the documents you claim to be reviewing. From your first false claim, you allege that “at least 22 batches of shrimp tested positive on both ELISA and LCMSMS b) on at least two records, shrimp that had tested positive on both tests were described as “loaded as Oscar.” While you have not provided any supporting documents, the only specific lot number you discuss is 1643, in November 2023, so this is the only lot number Choice can address at length. You have painted a false picture that Choice allegedly knew lot number 1643 tested positive for antibiotics yet sent this shipment to the United States anyway. Your portrait is patently false.

Attached as Exhibit B please find the testing data and other information which tells the complete story for lot number 1643. (For ease of reference, we have compiled these various documents together into a single PDF, as opposed to sending many separate PDF documents. As such, the metadata will reflect that the combined PDF was recently created. Rest assured that we have the scanned individual copies of each original document, with metadata that will reflect the documents were created in November and December 2023 (when they were first scanned into Choice’s computer system), the dates indicated on each respective document. We can make these documents available upon request.) This is an instance where Choice could not utilize its mobile lab to conduct pre-harvest testing and instead sent the shrimp to an outside lab for testing before harvesting. Page 2 of this exhibit/PDF shows the results of the outside lab’s pre-harvest testing: negative for all types of antibiotics before Choice purchased it. Since the shrimp passed the pre-harvest testing, page 3 contains the details, including logistic details, of lot no. 1643 and its transport to Choice’s facility.

As you can see, lot no, 1643 weighed 5680 KG. Page 4 is a declaration from Choice’s farmer supplier declaring that high quality standards were used to harvest the shrimp, including absolutely no antibiotics or other contaminants are present. Pages 5-6 contains details about when the lot first arrived at Choice’s facility, and also demonstrates Choice’s testing of the raw material once it arrived at the facility, complete with test results once again showing no antibiotics were present. Pages 7-11 show that after the shrimp was processed, Choice once again tested it for antibiotics using an ELISA screening and this time the shrimp was revealed to be antibiotic positive. Pages 12-13 show that the shrimp was sent to an independent outside laboratory, and failed the confirmatory LCMSMS test, as it tested positive for antibiotics again. Page 14-15 contain the internal incident report dated December 6, 2023 which documents that on November 27, 2023, lot no. 1643 tested positive for antibiotics, the product was segregated and quarantined, and the entire lot was returned to Choice’s farmer as per the supply agreement. Page 16 contains a letter from Choice to its farmer supplier informing him that his shrimp tested positive for antibiotics both on the ELISA screening test and the confirmatory LCMSMS test. As such, the entire lot no. 1643 was returned to the supplier. Finally, page 17 contains the sign-out sheet when the supplier picked up the entirety of lot no. 1643 and returned it to his farm, on December 7, 2023. Note that Page 16 indicates that the raw material quantity of lot no. 1643 was 5,660 KG, while the processed quantity was 3,860 KG, thus the entry log (page 5) reflects 5,660 KG arriving in the facility in lot no. 1643 while page 18 reflects 3,860 KG being returned to the supplier.

If you wish to share more information please do so and we will soundly reject that too. Choice is not the company you are trying to portray.

As such, your various claims — including that lot number 1643 was shipped into the United States — are demonstrably and patently false. While you claim that “[t]he plant’s December shipping sheet shows that it was later shipped on container MNBU9039413 to the United States,” this claim is also clearly false. There is no such shipping sheet that “shows” lot number was shipped into this container, because, as demonstrated, the lot was returned to Choice’s supplier and picked up on December 7, 2023. To print a story with these accusations is and will be knowingly false by Outlaw and your organization, and will be the subject of a lawsuit.

Choice’s OSCAR Policy

Your letter implies that Choice has fabricated its OSCAR policy, and that the metadata of the document provided by Choice to Outlaw (Exhibit C of our prior letter) “suggests” it was created on March 11, 2024. If you applied a scintilla of this “skeptical” approach in assessing what convicted serial felon and manipulator Joshua Farinella has provided you, you would not even be considering to print your story. For your information, Choice had long implemented its OSCAR policy, in effect not only in its Amalapuram plant, but also in its other plants. The serial felon and manipulator Joshua Farinella hid this key policy from you. The reason why the metadata of that document was dated March 11, 2024, is because we translated the policy from Telegu to English so you can read it. The policy is no surprise to any of Choice’s applicable employees, who are trained on it as part of their onboarding and to Joshua Farinella. These employees would submit statements supporting this and dispelling what Outlaw and you have been fed by Joshua Farinella, and his manipulation of data.

The actual date Choice’s OSCAR policy was created for its Amalapuram plant was April 1, 2022. Attached as Exhibit C please find the electronic copy of Choice’s original OSCAR policy. As you can see from Exhibit D, the metadata demonstrates this policy was first scanned on April 3, 2022, when Choice scanned it to make it electronically available for applicable employees. The OSCAR policy was created for the Amalapuram plant in April 2022 in preparation for the plant’s leasing and production beginning in June 2022, so that Choice could “hit the ground floor running” once it occupied the facility, and make sure its vigilant and diligent protections and policies to deliver the highest quality shrimp to its customers stayed in place for this facility.

All internal policies are not required to be published for audits or otherwise. Choice’s OSCAR policy was created to control their internal QA findings on how potential antibiotic positive shrimp are handled. There is or was no suspect or malicious reason behind the naming of “Oscar,” as you imply; all of Choice’s factory codes merely are phonetic. To further dispel your misdirection of Choice’s OSCAR policy, once a product fails the ELISA screening (either at the raw material or processed material stage), it is labeled as OSCAR and immediately segregated and quarantined, to await further confirmatory LCMSMS testing. The OSCAR material that fails confirmatory testing gets destroyed or sold as shell waste, or where required by a supplier agreement, returned to the supplier.

The Oscar shrimp that passes the LCMSMS confirmatory testing gets removed from quarantine, processed and then shipped to Choice’s customers. For Joshua Farinella’s purposes, any time OSCAR was used it referred to product that passed the confirmatory LCMSMS testing. Choice’s QA team was responsible for and ensured that no Oscar shrimp was released to the plant from segregation and quarantine, and was not eligible to be shipped to Choice’s customers until it passed the LCMSMS testing. Management would then approve the Oscar material to be shipped as per the Oscar Policy; this is what you are reading and referring to in Joshua Farinella’s messages to Jacob Jose. Choice’s QA team would confirm this for you if you had conducted an independent investigation instead of blindly relying on the word of Joshua Farinella. When you quote “LOL”, it is because of (what we now know was purposeful and deceitful) reference by Joshua Farinella as “antibiotic positive” which it was not, ergo the “LOL”.

This should further demonstrate for you and Outlaw, and not be hidden or downplayed, that Joshua Farinella is continuing his long pattern of criminal deception and fraud in his interactions with you and Outlaw, and the picture he paints of Choice. We have learned that as recently as March 15, 2024, Mr. Farinella personally reached out to Choice employees. Like a serial criminal, he cannot help himself from going back to the scene of the crime that he falsely created.

Joshua Farinella has intentionally never mentioned Choice’s long-established OSCAR policy to you because he knows that if he did, it would undermine everything he has told you. Yet, you seemingly continue to rely on him despite his demonstrable lies. We ask that you put all publishing agendas aside and recognize that there is no antibiotic-tainted shrimp being sent by Choice to the United States, and any conclusion to the contrary by you and Outlaw is knowingly false. If you have any other doubts, send us the data and we will conclusively reject and disprove the allegation.

BAP Certification

Your serious claim that Choice “merely assert[s] on paperwork that the farms they were using are BAP-certified, but virtually none of them actually were” is outrageous and knowingly false. Your further claim that Choice’s quality assurance team somehow concocts “documentation skills to bring them [its farms] to BAP compliance” is false and printed with reckless disregard for the truth. In fact, Choice purchases product from 20 BAP-certified farms which collectively source from 780 ponds.

Again, as noted above, Choice invites your publication and Outlaw to accept its invitation and tour its facilities and as part of your stay, Choice will send you to its BAP-certified supply farms. It should already, but will be made even more abundantly clear to you that Joshua Farinella has lied to you and presented manipulated, falsified and twisted information and “evidence”, and that Choice’s many BAP-certified farms are indeed BAP-certified, and this is not the creation of concocted documents as you previously recklessly and now knowingly falsely assert. If you actually want to print the truth, you and Outlaw will accept Choice’s invitation to see the complete picture for yourself and provide the data you are relying on for a full reply. Choice deems any refusal to accept the foregoing as an admission which further demonstrates that your already printed and planned story is knowingly false, and done to satisfy you and Outlaw’s publication agenda.

BAP/SGS and Audits

Your letter misstates the circumstances behind Choice’s various audits. It is the BAP audits that are unannounced; a customer audit such as Aldi is typically announced. In fact, your letter’s entire section on audits betrays your reliance on the information fed to you by Joshua Farinella, as well as your failure to accept the most basic and truthful facts around these audits. BAP audits are unannounced and Choice learns when an audit will start once the auditor arrives at its facility.

The only other individuals you name in your audit/falsification of paperwork section are Sre██ (Choice Quality Assurance Manager) and Kir████ (Choice Human Resources Manager). For your information, I extensively spoke with both of these individuals on Saturday. Not only do both deny the substance and context of statements you have attributed to them, both explained that Joshua Farinella is grossly distorting the context of the referenced conversations, and making a false interpretation of events.

Mr. ███, despite now being a former Choice employee, is willing to fully cooperate and speak to you to erase any genuine doubt you may have about the false information you are blindly relying on from Joshua Farinella. He validated Choice’s OSCAR policy: both the long-established nature of it along with the details of it which I have already explained to you. Mr. ███ also confirmed the six level quality and safety testing procedures that Choice employs, which I have already explained, and are unmatched by any other Indian company.

To reiterate, OSCAR does not mean “antibiotic-positive”. It simply means that the shrimp failed the ELISA screening at the raw material or processed material stage. Mr. ███ confirmed, as will any other knowledgeable Choice employee, that the ELISA testing procedure is not precise which is why confirmatory LCMSMS testing is required, and the only Oscar shrimp which is shipped is the shrimp that passes the LCMSMS testing as antibiotic-free.

Mr. ███ further confirmed that at all times, Choice’s senior management made it 100% clear that shrimp quality and safety is paramount. Choice’s CEO Jose Thomas and others have clearly instructed to him as head of QA that the product must be perfect. Mr. ███ was clearly instructed that if there was ever a doubt about the quality or safety of a shrimp product, the product was not to be shipped and Choice would take a loss on the product. Choice at all times stressed quality and safety.

Regarding the upcoming Aldi audit, I advised Mr. ███ of the content of what you quoted in your letter. Mr. ███ explained that the way you are characterizing his conversations is completely wrong and incorrect. What he said to Joshua Farinella on January 23, 2024 (which Joshua Farinella knows) was that Choice should order enough shrimp material to be processed on the day that Aldi was coming to do its audit, to show Aldi that the plant could operate at or close to full capacity so all lines are operational during the audit. Because the material that Choice processes varies on any given day, with many “off” days operating at partial capacity, Mr. ███ did not want the facility running at 30% or otherwise partial capacity when the Aldi auditors arrived.

If so, Aldi would question why Choice’s facility had so many production lines not operational and not more typical day of processing.

Your second alleged conversation, from February 13, 2024, is simply impossible. You claim that Mr. ███ was present on a “recorded exchange” on February 13, yet his last day of work at Choice was February 8. This demonstrates that Joshua Farinella is manipulating and doctoring the evidence you claim to rely on, yet refuse to produce. It also demonstrates that you are blindly relying on the doctored evidence provided by a serial felon and manipulator to meet your agenda of printing a sensationalist story that is not true, and is knowingly false and defamatory. You and the Outlaw must ask yourselves, why do you downplay the significance of his extensive criminal history of fraud and deceit in your March 14, 2024 letter, but then quickly revert back and refer to him to support your claims and story?

Finally, Mr. ███ confirmed that your alleged WhatsApp message dated February 7, 2024 from him, in which he allegedly made statements to the effect of, “We never buy shrimp from BAP farms. All are local, unregistered farms,” is a complete mischaracterization and misrepresentation originating from Joshua Farinella. Any conversation like this would relate solely to Choice’s customers purchasing non-BAP certified shrimp.

Mr. ███ confirmed that the claims you are attributing to him show the shocking dishonesty of Joshua Farinella. It seems that you and Outlaw are seemingly ready to print outrageous lies.

You and Outlaw are advised to exercise the bare minimum of journalistic integrity and accept Mr. ███’s offer to speak with him so that he can provide you with truthful information of Choice’s high quality and safety standards.

Kir███ similarly confirmed that your statements and allegations about Choice somehow “hiding” workers for audit purposes are entirely false and baseless. Similarly, your allegations about Choice somehow “hiding” workers for audit purposes is completely false. First, the allegations are entirely implausible for unannounced BAP audits; is Choice alleged to have made workers disappear into thin air as soon as the auditor arrives unexpectedly at its factory gates? Where were all these purported workers taken? Where is Joshua Farinella’s video of this mass removal? The allegations are entirely false and baseless. Second, Mr. ██ explained that Choice simply does not have a building where it can “hide” workers during an audit; the allegation is preposterous.

You falsely claim there are “discrepancies” between Choice’s internal daily reports and external BAP audit, but this was already addressed in the Outlaw reply letter. Choice stands oh its unparalleled antibiotic testing procedures (four levels, preharvest, ELISA raw material, ELISA processed material, LCMSMS) and highest of quality standards. If we can agree on your visit to the facility, you and Outlaw are welcome to bring a BAP-certified auditor (unannounced) into Choice’s facility and conduct your own BAP audit.

Joshua Farinella’s Inherently Irreconcilable Representations and Changing Story

At this point, it should be clear to you that you have been continually misled by the serial felon and manipulator, Joshua Farinella, and your blind reliance on him and the cherry-picked and manipulated data he has presented to you, constitutes reckless disregard for the truth and knowing falsity. However, to further demonstrate this, we are presenting you with Joshua Farinella’s emails with Choice executives that directly undermine and contradict the claims you make in your letter, which you received from Joshua Farinella.

Regarding SGS, as we have already explained to Outlaw, the voluntary daily internal reports are meant to capture every single nitpick, and addressed on a daily basis. This is to ensure the highest of standards for Choice’s facility. This also insures that Choice’s standards are well above what any external BAP audit covers and well above the mere pass or fail standard established by the external BAP audit. As such, no contradictions are present.

Moreover, Joshua Farinella has again lied to you that the SGS daily internal reports somehow demonstrate that either Choice or SGS’s external audit team is somehow falsifying information for Choice’s external BAP audits. For context, Joshua Farinella was the Amalapuram facility’s General Manager and its highest-level employee, making a substantial six figure salary.

He was responsible for ensuring that the facility was BAP compliant, the facility was up to the highest sanitation and safety standards, its workers were taken care of, etc. If Joshua Farinella is complaining to you about these issues, he is in effect complaining about his very own job performance.

As recently as January 2024, Joshua Farinella’s LinkedIn profile stated that Choice was an “amazing company operating the most advanced production facility in the world.” See Exhibit H. Which Farinella story is the truth, the one he told you or the one he posted on his LinkedIn account?

In truth, Joshua Farinella was frustrated by Choice’s insistence on the highest quality standards in the form of voluntarily paying SGS to conduct daily inspections and issue daily reports, and continually attempted to induce Choice to fire SGS as he claimed that SGS was fabricating quality and sanitation issues on the internal SGS reports that you have reviewed. As you will see, Joshua repeatedly told Choice in emails that the facility was living up to extremely high quality and safety standards and that SGS was simply fabricating issues on their daily reports in order to justify their continued payment and charges, while he is telling you that the SGS internal daily reports constitute damning evidence that supposedly not only proves unsatisfactory conditions in Choice’s Amalapuram plant, but that the SGS external audit reports are somehow falsified or not reflective of the reality.

For specific documentary evidence (none of which you have provided to date), regarding your and Outlaw’s claim that the slime SGS noted in its daily reports constituted unsanitary conditions, in an email dated January 20, 2024, Joshua Farinella wrote: “SGS loves writing about slime on bins and conveyors and such. Fact is, it should be there. It means that tons of raw, wet product are moving through the facility. There were reports from SGS last week when they said that the cooker infeed was perfect and that records are maintained. Because there was no production. Even today, Alpha 1 has slime on the belts. Alpha 2 is spotless. 1 is running. 2 is not. If alpha 2 runs tonight, there will be slime there too.” See Exhibit I. In this email Joshua went on to accept full responsibility for the “silly” issues SGS noted in its daily reports, and further stated: “Every day, post-production, the equipment is completely cleaned and sanitized. Then, pre-production, that cleaning is verified, documented, and the equipment put back in service.”

On December 10, 2023, Joshua Farinella vehemently complained to JT Thomas that the very high quality standards which Choice voluntarily implements from SGS in the form of internal policing and reports, are unnecessary because Choice’s facility already has the highest quality standards. In Exhibit E, page 1, the serial felon Joshua Farinella alleged: “I will include indisputable evidence that the SGS reports are lies. And essentially, they are stealing from you.”

See Exhibit E, p. 1 (emphasis added). He also represented, to SGS itself, that: “My suspicion of a fabricated report is no longer a suspicion. It can now be accepted, whether you like it or not, as a statement of fact.” See Exhibit F, p.2.

Thus, while Joshua Farinella has told you that the internal SGS reports demonstrate critical hygiene and sanitation failures inside Choice’s Amalapuram facility, and further claimed that the internal reports demonstrate that the SGS external audits are a lie or falsification (either by Choice itself or SGS, your allegation is unclear), Joshua Farinella repeatedly told Choice that the various issues noted on the daily internal SGS reports were falsified by SGS to justify their continued existence, in effect “stealing” from Choice. We are sure that Joshua Farinella never mentioned these critical details to you, as it negates your entire story as a false one.

As another example of your lack of independent investigation and instead blind reliance on cherry-picked and doctored “evidence” provided to you by Joshua Farinella, your letter quotes a purported “phone call” between Choice CEO Jose Thomas and Joshua Farinella that occurred on February 6, 2024. In fact, this was a 36-minute recorded Zoom meeting, and the focus of the meeting was on Joshua Farinella’s failure to satisfactorily perform his job duties and Choice is losing money because Joshua Farinella’s job performance was terrible. JT Thomas spoke to Joshua about his operations and how he was failing terribly at the facility and Joshua did not challenge it. JT Thomas and Jacob did not instruct Joshua to do anything illegal; to the contrary, they told him to do his job. They made it clear to Joshua that he was not properly managing the people, operations, etc. You’ve taken it out of context to make it seem that Joshua was in trouble for being a whistleblower, when the reality is Joshua knew his employment would last much longer due to his terrible job performance which was causing Choice to lose money. There is not a single instance on this Zoom meeting — or elsewhere — of Choice’s ownership instructing Joshua Farinella to commit an illegal act. Accordingly, your failure to acknowledge this and instead presenting an entirely false narrative to the contrary constitutes knowing falsehoods and intending to publish an article with reckless disregard for the truth.

In short, Joshua Farinella knew his work performance was abhorrent. He lied to you that he voluntarily resigned; he knew his firing was imminent due to his job performance and issues and he admitted as such to a Choice manager as explained in our letter to Outlaw. And at no time was Joshua Farinella ever requested or instructed to perform an illegal act by Choice ownership. Your repeated implications and allegations to the contrary are knowingly false.

Finally, your allegation of Choice’s improprieties relating to Aldi Europe are similarly false and wholly baseless, and demonstrates your reckless disregard for the truth. For your information, Aldi Europe is not a Choice customer, nor does Choice have any European customers. The transaction you are referring to concerned Choice’s sending of five pounds of breaded shrimp as a sample to Aldi Europe, who requested it. The Amalapuram facility does not possess the capability of breading shrimp; the raw material was sent from Amalapuram to Choice’s Cochin facility so that the latter facility could process it. Had you or Outlaw conducted even a proper independent investigation you would not have raised such clearly false and baseless allegations. Your story is full of such instances which we can point too and show at the appropriate time if required.


The allegations about the offsite peeling sheds are also baseless and defamatory. Both facilities only were used to process non-BAP shrimp. One facility belongs to a copacker, Sri█████. Accordingly, the shrimp in this facility are not owned nor sold by Choice, they are sold by Sri█████. This is why we did not mention the facility in our letter to Outlaw.

The remaining shed that we did mention was only temporarily used for a brief period of time and NEVER used for the processing of ANY BAP-certified shrimp. Your allegations to the contrary are wrong and knowingly false. In fact, your sole source of information, Joshua Farinella.

In fact, Joshua Farinella visited the offsite peeling shed and found sanitation to be satisfactory, and Choice can prove this too.

You and Outlaw’s failure to be aware of such basic facts continues to demonstrate an agenda to print a story at the cost of the truth and that you are intending to print a story that is knowingly false in reckless disregard for the truth.


Choice highly values its associates. Its CEO, Jose Thomas, has clarified that Choice does not call them “workers” and instead “associates” to further show respect and dignity to the building blocks of Choice’s organization. Regarding your false allegations to the contrary, once again, Joshua Farinella has misled you, and you have blindly followed his word despite purporting to minimize the impact that he has had on your and Outlaw’s “reporting.”

You claim that Choice paid its associates underneath the applicable Indian minimum wage, claiming that the law requires they be paid 450 rupees per day and they were only paid 350 rupees a day. This claim is false, at all times Choice has paid at least the minimum wage to all of its associates. Specifically, India’s applicable minimum wage, varies based on skillset, industry, city and state.

Moreover, Joshua Farinella only showed you one aspect of the associate wage pay and misled you about the remainder of the document. As you can see in Exhibit J, (page 2 of the PDF) in November 2023, Choice paid 450 rupees per day for its male associates (denoted as “boys”). See, e.g., p.1. Choice paid 450 rupees per day for its female associates as well (found on page 3 of the PDF), just that the payment was broken up into 350 rupees for “per duty” and 100 rupees for “transport.” Critically, Joshua Farinella did not tell you that certain employees’ wages were broken up into “per duty” and “transportation” on the contractor’s invoices, but Choice nonetheless paid 450 rupees per day for its associates which fulfilled its legal responsibilities.

Moreover, beginning in January 2024 — and long before hearing from you or Outlaw — Choice dramatically increased its female associate pay above the minimum wage. As you can see in Exhibit K, from January 2024 onwards, each female associate was now paid 350 + 145 + 100 daily rupees, a total of 595 rupees per day. This is consistent with Choice’s continued commitment to treat their associates fairly and with dignity and respect, and empowerment of women, as the vast majority of Choice’s workforce is women.

Your reference to Choice’s CEO, Jose Thomas, denying knowledge of its employees being paid underneath minimum wage is correct. JT denied this knowledge because he knows Choice would never underpay its associates. It would be untruthful and knowingly false for you and Outlaw to claim that Choice pays or paid its associates beneath minimum wage now that you see these documents. Choice is an ethical and lawful business, so of course JT was “shocked” to hear someone allege to the contrary, as you say in your March 14, 2024 letter. If you print that Choice underpays its associates beneath the minimum wage, this is a knowingly false statement and Choice will hold you and Outlaw accountable in a court of law. In fact, Choice’s wages are higher than any other factory in the area.

As for your claim that Choice’s associates were not allowed to leave, this is also completely false, and has been debunked by your quoted source whom you never bothered to contact, Kir██. Choice has a system that ensures the safety of the associates. The Amalapuram facility is located in an extremely remote area approximately 8 miles away from the nearest village. There is a lack of transportation options, which typically have to be arranged in advance. When Choice’s associates come in and out of the facility they have to sign in and out. There is also a gate pass system where any associate who wishes to leave or enter the facility requests a gate pass, receives one, and can scan the pass to leave. If an associate wishes to leave the facility, their contractor is advised after the fact, and has no authority or opportunity to deny a leave request. At all times associates are free to come and go as they please as gate passes are issued upon demand.

Kir██, who as I indicated above, I interviewed so I can address your allegations, also explained the circumstances the single female associate who attempted to leave the facility at 2:30 a.m. and was told to leave in the morning for safety reasons. She wanted to leave without requesting transportation in advance, and was informed by Choice’s HR department that this would be unsafe, as she had no way of being transported to the village 8 miles away in the middle of the night as there is no waiting transportation. She was told to wait until 6 am at which point transportation would be arranged and paid for her. Choice then arranged and paid for her transportation, and she left satisfied.

Please note, if employees make transportation arrangements in advance to leave in the middle of the night, they can leave; the only reason why this incident occurred was because no transportation arrangements were made in advance. Choice will seek to procure this female associate and produce her for your review if this explanation is not enough for you, so that Choice can dispel your unfounded and incorrect suspicions for anything related to her employment. She will confirm that what Joshua Farinella is telling you are lies. Let us know if you wish to accept Choice’s offer.

Regarding your allegations that associates were not permitted to take time off, Choice’s Amalapuram facility does not have full labor crews for many days so it is impossible a single associate would work 360 days. Please provide the proof you claim to have reviewed, to corroborate your claim that at least one Choice associate spent 360 days in a single year working.

For your information, Choice’s timesheets only go by first and last name, and there are many common names in India. Common first names among Choice’s associates are Lakshmi, Durga, and Bevi, while common last names are Majhi, Tudu, Petta, and Balla. It therefore appears that you are double-counting different associates who have the same name and improperly conflating them as a single associate.

Your claim that Choice’s employees are forced to sleep on the floor is similarly false and baseless, fed to you by Joshua Farinella. There is a storage area at the top of stairs located in the plant’s ammonia systems building. This is not a “hidden dorm” as Joshua Farinella has baselessly led you to believe, and which you have blindly accepted. Excess beds are stored by Choice in this storage area. Choice’s daily associates (not the associates residing in the facility) sometimes go into this room and take naps during their breaks. No one instructed them to engage in this practice, and Choice has not stopped the practice because there is no harm in a daily associate taking a nap during his or her break. This is not an area where Choice’s associates who reside in the facility get 8 hours of sleep in, as you falsely and baselessly allege. Once again, if you accept Choice’s offer and visit the facility, you are free to interview Choice’s associates who will readily confirm this for you.

As an example of the commitment Choice has to treat its associates fairly, and with respect and dignity, Choice has outings, day trips, shopping excursions, trips to the beach, and celebrations for its associates. As an example, see Exhibit L. These photographs reflect a celebration that Choice held for its associates in October 2023. As you can see, your centerpiece witness, serial felon and manipulator Joshua Farinella is present in the photographs. Did he mention this to you?

You need not answer, we know the answer.

Regarding employee lodging, Mr. ██ confirmed that once again Joshua Farinella is overstating and misleading you. There may have been an instance of a worm being found in a salad, specifically in a vegetable. The food is not infested. This would have been an instance among approximately 500 associates whom Choice serves meals three times daily at Choice’s sole cost and expense.

While there unfortunately is a bedbug problem in the Amalapuram region, Choice regularly has exterminations done. If a problem emerges, a contractor is promptly dispatched to address it.

Moreover, these issues were Joshua Farinella’s job responsibility in any event. We request once again that you produce the evidence that you claim to be relying on, because it is assuredly cherry-picked, doctored, or being taken out of context to paint a misleading picture of some mass and uncontrolled infestations, which never existed.

Your claim that Choice owns a “luxury marina” is false and is further evidence of blind reliance on baseless information.

Jose Thomas cares deeply for his associates. He always has, and continues to do so every day. He knows that his company was built on the ethical business practices and the proper treatment of Choice’s associates.


We have tried to address your letter as best as possible. We could not address every single line; you simply did not provide us with enough time to do so given your rushed deadline to print your story, and refused to provide the data you are relying on in your March 14, 2024 letter and false claims. You should be aware that even within your arbitrary and rushed timetable, Choice has been able to marshal an abundance of facts and evidence that has proven your “reporting” is and will be knowingly false, and with a reckless disregard for the truth. If legal action becomes necessary, Choice will have ample time to gather far more evidence to further demonstrate the bad-faith agenda you and Outlaw are pursuing, with the help of serial felon and manipulator Joshua Farinella.

We hope you put publishing agendas for Outlaw and you aside and look at the truth. The truth is that Choice’s facilities — including its Amalapuram facility — are industry-leading, compliant with the law, regulations, and industry standards and ethics. Choice sets and maintains the highest quality standards in the Indian frozen shrimping industry. This is who Choice is and will continue to be.

Respectfully, Patrick Papalia”

Future correspondence will be added here as this conversation continues.