Fish processing and general sanitation problems plague BCS African Wholesale Food Supply in Brooklyn Park, MN, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a July 20 warning letter.

BCS advertises itself as a direct importer/wholesaler of African foods.  In addition to its food business, it offers international phone cards, shipping barrels, and money gram transfer services.

Both FDA and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture inspected the wholesale foods facility over several dates last March and April.   FDA said there were “serious violations” of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Current Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and federal code of regulation.

“Accordingly, your uneviscertated smoked/dried fish (including Pike, Jack Cavalli, Bony fish and Kangbe fish) smoked fish and seafood (including smoked Herring Bloaters, smoked Barracuda, smoked Catfish, smoked Pike), and other various frozen and fresh fish (including snails, Red Snapper, and Titus sardines) are adulterated in that they have prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health,” wrote Ann Adams, FDA’s acting Minneapolis district director.

Adams said FDA inspectors also found “serious deviations” involving palm, oil, rice, beans, and other packaged food products.  Among FDA’s concerns are sanitation problems at the facility including:

-Food debris is collected on a metal saw used to portion fish.  Food contact surfaces must be kept clean.

-The hand sink was clogged and slow draining.  Hand washing facilities are supposed to be maintained.

-Gaskets on freezers were missing or damaged.  Warehouse walls contain debris.  Building and fixtures are supposed to be maintained.

-Insects were gaining entry through the wall and floor.  Pests are supposed to be excluded from food plants.

-There was a food buildup from the palm oil rebottling process.  Food contact surfaces are to be kept clean.

African Wholesale was told it needed a seafood HACCP plan for each kind of fish or fish product it produces.  FDA is especially concerned about control of Clostridium botulinum, which causes deadly botulism, for the “bony fish,” crayfish, and tilapia the food company imports from Nigeria and China.

FDA gave the Minnesota company 15 working days to respond to the issues raised in the warning letter.