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FDA Warning Letters Follow Imported Fish Blocked at Border After Failing Lab Tests

Three New York importers of fish and fishery products have a lot in common. Their dried filefish, dried anchovy fish, and herring filets were all refused entry into the U.S. based on testing by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laboratories. Then FDA inspected their facilities and sent them warning letters calling for immediate correction of violations.

FDA’s New York District Office sent warning letters earlier this month to the three fish importers in Brooklyn and Queens over concern that their products were not being processed under the same conditions required of domestic producers.

On March 6, FDA District Director Ron Pace wrote Peter K. Lam and Anh K. Ngo, co-owners of the Hong Lee Trading Company in Brooklyn, and Chel D. Chang, owner of the Han Sung Sikpoom Trading Company in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens. On March 7, Pace sent a third warning letter to Ira Pichkhadze, owner of Russian Products Inc. in Brooklyn.

The warning letters told the owners that their seafood importing companies are in serious violation of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations. Specifically, each was told they must provide evidence that the fish and fishery products they bring into the U.S. have been processed “under conditions that are equivalent to those required of domestic processors …”

The FDA warning letters refer to each business as a “seafood importer establishment.” The Han Sung Sikpoom Trading Co. underwent an inspection by FDA on Jan. 9 and 10, 2014; the inspection at Hong Lee Trading Co. was on Jan. 15 through Jan. 17, 2014, and those at Russian Products Inc. occurred on Jan. 23 and 24, 2014.

The inspections followed refused admission of Han Sung’s dried filefish, Hong Lee’s dried anchovy fish, and Russia Products’ herring.

Unless they make immediate corrections, all products being imported by all three companies could be placed on the list for “detention with physical examination,” meaning that U.S. ports would not permit entry of any of their products.

Separately, FDA’s Baltimore District Office sent a warning letter on March 6 to La Tienda Inc. regarding a seafood warehouse located in Toano, VA. The company was found to have significant violations of regulations for HACCP documents and record keeping.

© Food Safety News
  • MaryFinelli

    “The warning letters told the owners that their seafood importing companies are in serious violation of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations.”
    Very sobering considering that such a tiny fraction of imported seafood is inspected.

    • Prehistoric Vegan

      stop killing plants lady! Studies show they have feelings and show emotion when the fruit is being savagely taken from their parents!

      All your promotion of going vegan has led to a 34.68% increase in plant mortality! Stop the bloodshed, I meant chlorophyll-shed!! Please for the sake of mankind, we will all go to hell if we keep eating the way we were naturally intended to eat!! Dont kill animals or plants!!!

      I only eat petroleum based food from plants that have been dead for millions of years already, so its not a sin since they were already dead.

      • MaryFinelli

        If you are genuinely concerned about plants, it’s all the more reason to be vegan. Far fewer plants are required for a vegan diet than for an omnivorous one since converting plants to flesh is so inefficient. Get your facts straight.

        • Safety First

          Interesting that the “fish farmers” in other countries don’t eat the fish they ship to US! They farm a separate location for their own consumption. What does this say about food safety.

  • whats really going on?

    ok so what happened???

    Failing a lab test?? or violating HACCP?? They are 2 way different infractions…

    I for one was pretty surprised to see the title stating they failed a lab test, I almost forgot the FDA even actually tested seafood other then sensory examinations… because they dont.

    I was always under the impression that all seafood in the super market was definitely below the legislated tolerances for all contaminants (methlymecury, histamines, antibiotics, pesticides, other heavy metals, pcbs, dioxins etc…).

    That was until I read the HACCP guidance and related legislation and learned that less the 1% of seafood is actually analyzed in a lab. There is no law saying you have to test your seafood and know the concentrations of contaminants. As long as you have a HACCP in place, and your fish doesnt smell like rotting fish then your pretty much good to go and send it to shelf’s labeled as whatever you want.

    The best part is that companies will spend the money to test if they are exporting the seafood to Asia of Europe, but AMERICAN COMPANIES WONT SPEND THE MONEY TO PROTECT OUR AMERICAN PEOPLE. If you go the extra mile to protect foriegners you can do it to protect our own people…

    well that is of course if your testing to make sure your products safe or if your testing to make sure you dont loose millions of dollars by having your product destroyed…? which reason are you testing for?

    The answer is obvious if the Companies only test export product because export product is more likley to be tested and therefore you are more likely to get caught if somethings wrong.

    This shows that money drives food safety, not food safety otherwise why dont we protect American food more then we protect food we are shipping else where.

    • J T

      It’s both. They failed a lab test, and then they failed the inspection that was performed as a result of the lab test. It says it very clearly in the first paragraph…

  • Za Ch

    none of the fish mentioned are in the picture

  • ARM

    Tension with Russia and China, just a thought.