The convictions and sentences entered for a Gardena, CA meat company and its president were the centerpiece of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s criminal enforcement actions during the third quarter of the federal fiscal year, which ended June 30. Information contained in USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) quarterly enforcement report for the period said Paisano Meat Inc. and Jose Cruz Lopez Perez, its president, were sentenced during the period. Paisano Meat Inc. and Perez were on April 27, 2010 originally indicted on ten felony counts each for preparing and selling adulterated food containing sodium sulfite. On Feb. 16, 2011, Perez and the company each entered guilty pleas to one count of selling adulterated meat food products in commerce with intent to defraud. U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on June 22, 2012 accepted those pleas and sentenced Perez to 18 months of home detention followed by five years of probation. He was also fined $10,000 and ordered to pay a special assessment fee of $100. Paisano Meat Inc. was fined $50,000 plus a $400 special assessment fee. The meat company was also ordered to serve a five-year probationary program. In other major actions during the period, FSIS reported it issued a Default Decision and Order to Rudy, AR-based Cookrum’s Meat Processing and Taxidermy. The effect of the filing was to deny inspection services to the Arkansas business. Previously, on Nov. 23, 2011, FSIS filed a complaint to withdraw federal inspection services because of the conviction of owner Randall L. Cockrum on two misdemeanor counts involving the preparation and transportation of adulterated meat food products. In other administrative actions, FSIS issued “prohibited activity notices” to eight establishments, including two Los Vegas hotel-casinos. “Prohibited activity notices” are issued to establishments that do not take responsibility for removing adulterated, misbranded or unsafe food from commerce. Firms getting the notices during the period included: Albaghdadi Food Inc., Hazel Park, MI; Associated Food Stores, Hewlett, NY; Fremont Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV, Jerusalem Mfg. Natural Food Wholesalers, Dearborn, MI; Norman W. Fries, Inc., Claxton, GA; Pilgrim’s Pride, Carrollton, GA; Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Douglas, GA; and the Stratosphere Banquet Facility, Las Vegas, NV. During the third quarter, 17 of those administrative actions were for large plants including such top companies as Cargill Meat Solutions, JBS Swift, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. FSIS took 222 administrative actions during its third quarter, including both withholding and suspension moves. Meat and poultry plants can face such administration actions for a variety of reasons, including inhumane treatment of animals or interference or assaults on inspectors. Administrative actions are usually closed with a warning letter or letter of information, but can also be appealed. During the quarter, meat and poultry companies filed 84 appeals, winning 22 and losing 49 with 10 pending. In three instances, the appeal resulted in three modifications. Livestock inspections by FSIS during the period reached 35.44 million with 51,377 carcasses condemned. Poultry inspections went over 2.267 billion with more than 8,319 million carcasses rejected. Those numbers are on par with levels set earlier in the year. FSIS reported no seizure or civil injunctions for the period. The FSIS Office of Program Evaluation, Enforcement and Review (OPEER) did detain 44,177 pounds of meat and poultry in 58 separate actions during the quarter. OPEER detentions during the first three quarters of the year reached 1.645 million pounds in 189 detentions. It issued 261 warning letters during the last quarter. The Office of International Affairs detained 139,234 pounds in 25 actions during period. OIA’s detentions during the first three quarters reached 1.755 million pounds in 104 actions. Also during the third quarter, FSIS accepted almost 786 million pounds of meat and poultry products for import to the U.S., a level about the same as were experienced during the first half.