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Fish Processors Run Afoul of Food Safety Regs

Seafood processors in Miami, Albany, and Menomonie ran afoul of federal regulations late in 2010, bringing them recent warning letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Snow crab in Miami, tuna loins and mahi mahi in Albany, and smoked trout in Menomonie were all found adulterated, according to FDA inspectors. Recently released warning letters tell why.

FDA sent a Dec. 22nd warning letter to Vistar Corporation because of “significant violations” of various federal food safety regulations at its seafood processing facility located in Miami.

FDA said Vistar’s frozen, cooked ready-to-eat Snow Crab, which is canned and pasteurized, and its frozen cooked lobster is adulterated. Specific Vistar’s violations include:

  • Its seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan does not address the length of the cooking cycle, temperature of the steam, and minimum-maximum size of the lobster being processed.

  • Nor is Vistar’s HACCP plan include a critical limit time that is adequate to control for the hazard of pathogen growth during transit.

  • Monitoring procedures for the length of the cooling cycle do not include the type of thermometer used, the method the monitor the length of the cycle, and the frequency for monitoring.

  • The plan does not call for monitoring for the presence of sulfating agents.

  • Sanitation monitoring was found lacking because an employee receiving ready-to-eat stone crab did not wash and sanitize his hands; products were allowed to come into contact with old chemical containers, and employees conducting cleaning operations did not use sanitizing solution.

FDA said Vistar’s response to the Form 483 was not provided within 15 days and was not filed in time to be responded to in the warning letter.  It urged the company to respond within 15 days to the warning letter or face possible seizure of its adulterated products and/or enjoining the firm from operation.

Albany, NY-based D. Brickman Inc. received a Jan. 18 warning letter from FDA for “significant violations” involving its tuna loins and mahi mahi. 

Under federal seafood regulations, D. Brickman must have an HACCP plan for each kind of fish or fishery product it produces. “However, your firm does not have an HACCP plan for tuna and mahi mahi to control the food safety hazard of scombrotoxin (histamine) formation,” the warning letter says.

FDA told the company it should respond in writing within 15 working days with documentation on how it is addressing the violation.

A Jan. 19 warning letter went out to the Bullfrog Fish Farm in Menomonie, WS over “serious violations” involving the production of its smoked trout products.

Among its HACCP plan violations, FDA told the Bullfrog Fish Farm that it does:

  • not address the food safety hazard of undeclared allergens.

  • not adequately address pathogen growth during storage.

  • not have a record keeping system.

  • not match temperature-recording logs with tracer logs.

  • not monitor the safety of water that comes into contact with food or food contact surfaces; prevent cross contamination, and exclude pests from processing areas.

  • not address the food safety hazard of aquaculture drugs, and

  • not address misbranding due to use of a color additive.

Like the other two, the Wisconsin fish processor was given 15 working days to respond or face potential product seizure or being enjoined from operating.

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