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Federal Meat & Poultry Inspectors Add Up Busy Quarter

USDA recently disclosed criminal, civil, and administrative actions taken to enforce the federal meat and poultry inspection acts during the last three months of last year.

In a 47-page enforcement report for the period that marks the first quarter of the federal fiscal year, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) slices and dices all its regulatory actions into data for the quarter.

Federal meat inspectors were busy overseeing the slaughter of 38.656 million animals and more than 2.1 billion birds, mostly chickens and turkeys, during the final three months of 2011.

Not all meat makes it.  Just over 400,00 pounds of domestic meat, poultry and eggs were detained in 65 separate actions with another 1.387 million pounds detained from foreign sources, according to FSIS.

For the meat and poultry business, however, the enforcement report is like the traffic cop’s ticket book as it includes details on all the infractions the industry has committed. These include everything from a small administrative speed bump to doing felony time in one of those federal big houses.

On the civil side in the new report, USDA sought to close down two poultry operations for violations of the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA).   In the case involving 44th Avenue Halal Poultry Corporation and Hakim Abdul Mazumder, a permanent injunction was imposed against the operation.  In the other, involving S&N Bhuiyan Corp., a pending civil complaint seeks injunctive relief.

Woburn, MA-based Joseph’s Industrial Catering Corp. was fined $5,000 last Dec. 14 and permanently enjoined for violations of both the PPIA and the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).  A consent decree first imposed on the company in 1995 was being violated.

Criminal actions were taken against individuals associated with four companies.

Fiberto Berrios of San Juan, PR was sentenced to a one-year prison term along with a one-year of supervised probation and a $5,000 fine for violations of both FMIA and the PPIA.  

Berrios earlier pleaded to purchasing and transporting misbranded meat and poultry products.   His agreement including pleading guilty to one felony court for offering to sell adulterated meat in commerce with intent to defraud. He was originally charged with eight felony counts.

Gardena, CA-based Paisano Meat Co. and Jose Cruz Lopez Perez were originally charged in a 2010 indictment with 10 felony counts for preparing and selling meat products adulterated with sodium sulfite. He has now pleaded to one count, and is awaiting sentencing.

Two felony and two misdemeanor counts were brought against the San Jose, CA-based Trinh Company, its owner Jenny H.  Mai, and employee Linda Chen Mai.  The indictment charges meat products were misbranded with intent to defraud and falsely represented the meat as being inspected.

Finally, Belcamp, MD-based United Source One was sentenced for two criminal misdemeanors involving the false and fraudulent altering of an official certificate for meat and poultry export.   

United One Source is a food supplier, exporting to 10 foreign markets.

A fine of $100,000 per count was imposed along with a requirement to pay restitution of $75,000 to the USDA for costs associated with the investigation, a $250,000 special assessment and three years probation.

Administrative action against the individual meat and poultry plants that are under FSIS inspection make up the largest part of the Enforcement Report.  Included are 22 administrative actions against America’s largest meat plants.

Giant Cargill Meat Solutions faced administrative actions in Fort Morgan, CO; Dodge City, KS; Friona, TX and Springdale, AR.  In three, USDA took a “withholding action,” denying inspection for a day or part of a day.

Hastings, NE-based Nebraska Prime Group, Windom, MN-based PM Beef, Austin, MN-based Quality Pork Processors, and Guymon, OK-based Seaboard Foods faced administrative actions for the inhumane treatment and/or slaughter of animals.

Tyson Fresh Meat plants in four of six cities were also on the receiving end of administrative action for inhuman treatment, as was the Swift Pork facility in Worthington, MN.

Administrative actions were taken at more than 80 small plants. Fowler, CA-based Bobby Salazar’s Food Products, Sylmar, CA-base Graciana Tamale, and Fullerton, CA-based Nina Mia Inc. all operated without the benefit of federal inspection.

Hayward, CA-based Windsor Quality Food is said to have violated a regulatory control action.

More than 120 “very small establishments” also made the list for administrative actions.  Most of these are small meat grinders or processors, working out of grocery meat departments or small meat shops.

© Food Safety News