The first warning letters of 2011 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have gone  to a Brooklyn seafood processing facility and a California seafood importer.


A Jan. 4 FDA warning letter to Benz’s Food Products Inc. in Brooklyn over ready-to-eat herring and a Jan. 5 warning letter to San Carlos, CA-based Inter-Ocean Seafood Traders Inc. about frozen shrimp and prawns are among the first enforcement actions of the year.

Benz’s, which was inspected last Oct. 21-25, was cited for significant violations of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations.

FDA said Benz’s HACCP plan for ready-to-eat salt-cured herring fillets in oil at several points was not adequate to control histamine formation and pathogen growth, including C. botulinum. 

Benz’s also was informed that it was not registered with the FDA, and it was advised that it could register by electronic means or by obtaining the proper forms and submitting them by mail or fax.

“We acknowledge receipt of the written response dated October 29, 2010 from Sales Coordinator Shmuel Raskin,” the warning letter said.  “We also acknowledge receipt of the HACCP plan for salt-cured herring fillets packed in oil and monitoring records that were faxed on December 14, 2010. ” 

As described herein, FDA has concerns regarding your HACCP plan, and we note that the temperature recording charts you submitted are illegible and do not clearly show what temperatures each of the concentric circles represent, or how this relates to time intervals during monitoring.”

For Inter-Ocean Seafood, which was inspected last Nov. 15-17, the violations included:

  • The firm, which imports shrimp from Ecuador, Nicaragua and Indonesia, did not have product specifications to address the hazard of undeclared sulfites.

  • The firm did not implement an affirmative step for the frozen shrimp imported from its foreign suppliers to address the hazard of undeclared sulfites.

Both companies were informed that additional action might be taken if the violations were not promptly corrected.  Each was asked to respond within 15 working days.