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Listeria Still Present at NY Fish Company

America’s seafood processing industry seems to still be learning about how to implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans.

This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released five “Warning Letters” to seafood processors that were largely about HACCP failures.  The most serious violations were found in the Brooklyn-based NY Fish Company.

For the third time, FDA inspectors have taken samples that returned positive results for Listeria inside the NY Fish Co. seafood processing facility at 738 Chester St. in Brooklyn.

“Once established in a production area, humans or machinery can facilitate the pathogen’s movement to and contamination of food-contact surfaces and finished product,” wrote Ronald M. Pace, FDA’s New York District director.  “These repeat findings environmental and finished product positives demonstrate an inability to adequately clean and sanitize the facility and to correct practices that lead to the contamination of finished product with L. monocytogenes.”

Listeria was found inside the NY Fish processing facility after inspections that occurred from May 27 to June 3, 2009; Sept. 10 to 26, 2009, and Oct. 20 to Nov. 3, 2009.   NY Fish last year recalled vacuum packaged smoked salmon and salted herring products after FDA found the Listeria contamination.

After the recall, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets stopped production at NY Fish “in an attempt to clean and sanitize” the facility.  But in the just released March 10, 2010 “Warning Letter” to the Brooklyn company, Pace said the pathogen “continues to reside in your facility.” 

Across the country in Auburn, WA, the Seoul Trading Company received a “Warning Letter” about its food storage, repacking, and importer facility. 

Pests, mainly live and dead moths, were found on products throughout the facility.  Gasoline was being stored around food.  There was not adequate screening to prevent pests from entering the facility and gaps between the bay doors and the warehouse.

FDA’s Seattle District Director Charles M. Breen said the Seoul Trading Company must have a HACCP plan for “each kind of fish and fishery product that you produce to determine whether there are food safety hazards that are reasonably likely to occur…”

FDA is concerned about controlling Botulism in Seoul’s vacuum packaged smoked squid; hot roasted squid, and seasoned squid.

Breen also sent a “Warning Letter” to Seattle’s Cucina Fresca Inc, over interpretations of HACCP regulations.  The Seattle food processing facility was told it needs to list the processing step where its prepared crab, lobster and smoked salmon filling is held in a walk-in refrigerator.

FDA also wants to know about the thawing and labeling steps for its crab and lobster products.  Cucina’s record keeping also needs work, FDA said.

The three companies with recent “Warning Letters” have 15 working days to respond to FDA’s concerns.

Vernon, CA-based Pacific American Fish Co. Inc, and Keene, NH-based C&S Wholesale Grocers, previous “Warning Letter” recipients, had their cases “closed out”; Pacific on March 11 and C&S on March 24.

That means they addressed all FDA’s concerns to the agency’s satisfaction.  Both involved HACCP violations since corrected.

© Food Safety News