Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Five Processors’ Seafood is Adulterated, FDA Says

If U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) district directors are not on a mission to clean up seafood processors, it sure looks like it.

In recently released warning letters, FDA put five more seafood processor on notice that they’ve got to correct violations or face more serious enforcement actions.

Seafood companies getting warning letters are located in Hamtramck, MI; Oakland and San Jose, CA; and Bronx and Syracuse, NY.

An Aug. 24 warning letter to the 18th Street Deli Inc. in Hamtramck, MI was the oldest correspondence to just be released.  The other warning letters were dated Nov. 2-9.

In Hamtramck, FDA told the 18th Street Deli that its ready-to-eat salad, tuna pasta salad, and fish and cheese sandwich products are adulterated because of “serious violations” of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulation.

The failure of a processor to have or implement a HACCP plan for fish or fishery products violates federal food safety laws.

FDA said the 18th Street Deli’s HACCP for fish and cheeses sandwiches does not list a critical control point for “refrigerated staging” for shipping, a step necessary for controlling pathogens due to time and temperature abuse.

“Specifically, ready to eat cold and cheese sandwiches are routinely manufactured by your firm and are stored in the Staging/Pack Out Cooler for up to 48 hours prior to shipment to your customers,” the warning letter said.

Under ready-to-eat products, the 18th Street Deli also does not address potential allergen problems, and the tuna/tuna pasta salad is silent on both allergens and potential for metal fragments.

Monitoring and recording temperatures also concerns FDA. It wants the 18th Street Deli to pick up the record keeping in order to control pathogen growth and histamine formation.

FDA also said the 18th Street Deli could do a better job on sanitation and pointed to the use of a spatula that was “frayed, creviced and not easily cleanable.”  The delis keep poor records of its sanitation practices.

A Nov. 2 warning letter to Oakland-based Dreisbach Enterprises Inc. said its fresh, refrigerated scombrotoxin-forming fish including Sardines and Mackerel are adulterated for failure to have or implement an HACCP plan.

“However, your firm’s HACCP plan “Seafood” for all fresh, refrigerated fish including scombrotoxin-forming fish, such as Sardines and Mackerel, does not list the food safety hazard of Scombrotoxin (Histamine) formation at the Receiving critical control point,” FDA said.  ” Your plan, which currently states “Degradation of product” as a hazard is not an acceptable substitute for Scombrotoxin (Histamine).”

FDA said the Oakland seafood processor on “at least two occasions” deviated from its critical limit, its corrective actions would not prevent unsafe product from reaching consumers.

Tony Crab King Inc., which processes ready-to-eat canned crabmeat, cooked seasoned crab claws, and oysters, learned in a Nov. 8 warning letter that FDA found its products adulterated.

“Accordingly, your refrigerated ready-to eat (RTE) canned crabmeat, cooked seasoned crab claws, and oysters 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.

In addition to its concerns about HACCP planning used by Tong Crab King, FDA faulted the Bronx fish company for its sanitation practices.   The agency had specific concerns about the condition and cleanliness of food contact services and the potential for cross contamination.

FDA said there were gouges in the cutting board and cardboard shipping boxes on a wet display counter.  Raw and cooked crabs were not being kept separated.  The condenser on a walk-in cooler was dripping on oysters and there was a dirty over-flow dumpster in the walk-in-cooler adjacent to ready-to-eat clams and oysters.

A Nov. 8 warning letter to Fish Cove Inc. in Syracuse, NY focused on a couple of fairly narrow points involving the company’s HACCP violations.   Fish Cove’s HACCP plan did not cover allergenic substances and it failed to address Staphylococcus aureus toxin formation.

Those omissions were enough for FDA to determine that Fish Cove’s breaded haddock are adulterated.

Race Street Foods, Inc, located in San Jose, CA, was the fifth and final seafood processing company warned in this round of letters.   A Nov. 8 warning letter said Race Street’s HACCP violations are significant.

FDA said Race Street does not have a HACCP plan for reduced oxygen packaged seafood products, including refrigerated, unpasteurized, canned Dungeness crabmeat to control the food safety hazard of pathogen growth and toxin formation

Botulism is a possible threat from reduced oxygen seafood products.

Each of the five seafood companies was warned that product seizures or actions to enjoin their companies from operating could result if prompt actions are not taken to correct the violations.   FDA asks for responds in writing within 15 working days.

© Food Safety News