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Three Seafood Processors Get FDA Warning

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found serious violations of federal food safety regulations at three more seafood processing facilities, newly released warning letters show.

Seafood processing facilities in Puerto Rico, Georgia, and New York State received recent warning letters from FDA for having “serious violations” of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations for food.

An Oct. 28 warning letter to Empresas Y-Nuina, a crabmeat processing company located in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, says pathogen growth is likely to occur in the absence of controlled thawing.

FDA said the Puerto Rican fish processor does not have a critical control point for thawing of frozen crabmeat after it is received for controlling the food safety hazard of pathogen growth and potential toxin formation.

FDA also said there was not a critical control point for cooler storage of the product after cooking in order to control for pathogen growth, including Staphylococcus Aureus.

A Nov. 1 warning letter that also addresses HACCP issues involving crabmeat processing went out the Eckerd Seafood Inc., located in Darien, GA.

FDA is concerned that the Georgia processing facility is not prepared to control pathogen growth and toxin formation during storage because its lacks proper temperature monitoring.

Eckerd also came in for criticism for its sanitation conditions, including flies on processing tables, vats containing fish, on the refuse can, and on walls.

FDA said it tested 18 samples the pasteurized crabmeat stored in a cooler found with a temperature of more than 60 degrees for decomposition.  Half failed.

“We called you to report the test results and inquire as to what your intentions were as to the status of the product,” the warning letter says.  “At the time you informed us that you were going to recall this lot, however, our recall coordinator has not yet received the recall information that he requested.”

The warning letter asks for a copy of any recall notification sent to customers and the distribution list for the lot involved.  “We may take further action if you do not promptly correct these violations,” it continues.  “For instance, we may take further action to seize your products and/or enjoin your firm from operating.”

Hong’s Merchandising Group Inc., based in Brooklyn, NY, also received a Nov. 1 warning letter because it lacked an HACCP plan when FDA inspectors visited the facility last July 30 and Aug.2.

“Accordingly, your refrigerated aquacultured, vacuum packed yellowtail (aka amberjack or hamachi) fishery products are adulterated, in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health,” the warning letter said.

The three seafood processors were each given 15 working days to tell FDA how they are going to correct their violations.

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