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Meat company executive receives probation for illegal sales

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service reported one criminal action for the last three months of 2017 in a quarterly enforcement report about the first quarter of the government’s 2018 fiscal year.

John Lonczynski, president of Greenview Meats Inc. in East Hazleton, PA, was sentenced last Oct. 17 to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $25 special assessment fee.

Lonczynski admitted his guilt in the sale of about 2,500 pounds of meat and meat food products, namely ground beef, that was both adulterated and misbranded. The transactions occurred May 4-31, 2012, in Pennsylvania. Excess fats and beef hearts adulterated the ground beef, which was misbranded because it did not list “beef hearts” on the label.

Charges against Lonczynski filed in April 2017 were followed by his agreement to plead guilty the single misdemeanor count for the sale of misbranded meat. His guilty plea put him at risk of a sentence of up to one year in prison, a maximum fine of $100,000, and one year of supervised probation. The U.S. District Court opted to sentence him to probation for one year and imposed a $25 assessment. It waived any prison time and said Lonczynski did not have the resources to pay a fine.

Lonczynski’s sentencing was the only criminal action included it the agency’s quarterly enforcement report, which covered Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2017. The period is FSIS’s first quarter of the federal fiscal year 2018

The quarterly enforcement report is a summary of the regulatory actions taken by 8,100 FSIS inspection personnel at the nation’s 6,400 meat, poultry and egg processing and slaughter establishments. It includes administrative, civil and criminal proceedings used by front-line inspectors and investigators.

FSIS also reported it withdrew federal inspection services from Westminster, VT-based Westminster Meats LLC for recurring violations of statutory and regulatory requirements in a previous consent order. Westminister requested a hearing to contest the withdrawal. That proceeding ran from Nov. 14-17, 2017, before an administrative law judge. The decision was still pending when the quarter ended.

In another civil action, Alma, MI-based Komperda Processing entered into a consent agreement with FSIS. The deal holds the withdrawal of meat exemption privileges in abeyance for a three year period. Under conditions contained in the agreement, Komperda must develop and maintain sanitation conditions, pest management, recordkeeping and written conditions to prevent the slaughter of non-ambulatory “downer” cattle.

Komperda also has to conduct employee training. Previously, the company was served with a Notice of Ineligibility to prevent it from doing any custom exempt operations.

Another business, Passaic, NJ-based Montiel Products LLC, agreed in a civil penalty stipulation agreement to pay a civil fine of $960. The administrative violation involved was not clear in the USDA’s report.

The light criminal and civil action for the quarter does not mean FSIS was not busy. More than 51.2 million head of livestock went to slaughter during the period. That’s 11.2 million more than last year’s first quarter and 12 million more than last year’s average quarterly slaughter level of 38.6 million.

Poultry carcass inspections, which came in at more than 2.3 billion, tracked with last the previous year’s numbers. Meat and poultry inspectors condemned 58,061 livestock carcasses and more than 7.8 million poultry carcasses.

Also, FSIS’s Office of Investigation, Enforcement, and Audit (OIEA) detained more than 5 million pounds of meat, poultry, and egg products in 74 enforcement actions. Most of the work came in OIEA’s Southeast region where 33 detentions totaled about 4.8 million pounds. No detentions were reported for the period by FSIS’s Office of Field Operations.

FSIS sent Prohibited Activity Notices to five businesses during the first quarter. Those businesses are: Hot Springs, AR-based Classic Food Mart; Columbia, MO-based FI Bleu Catering Stephens, Detroit-based Rafedain Shish Kabob Restaurant Inc.; Rohnert Park, CA-based Raley’s; and Galt, CA-based Raley’s No. 302.

During the first quarter, FSIS took administrative actions against 74 businesses. These include Notices of Intended Enforcement (NOIEs), suspensions, withholdings and other actions.

It also closed 78 cases with Letters of Warning, voluntary withdrawals, and other closure actions. This includes cases from previous quarters.

OIEA sent warning notices out to another 271 companies.

Inspection personnel logged more than $1.7 million verification procedures, resulting in 24,911 Noncompliance Records or NR’s. Regulated companies appealed 367 of these decisions, winning in 128. FSIS denied another 128 and 70 were pending.

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