With tomorrow’s sequester, USDA’s meat and poultry inspectors are supposed to see less work, but what they do accomplish will likely be measured against what they did during the last quarter of 2012. The federal government actually calls the period ending Dec. 31 the first quarter of its fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. In its 41-page “Enforcement Report” for the first quarter, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service reports inspecting 39,342 million head of livestock and 2,187 billion chickens and turkeys. Volumes for livestock were up from the previous quarter’s 36.66 million head, but down slightly for poultry, which came in at 2.265 billion during the earlier period. FSIS inspectors, who provide continuous daily inspection services to the nation’s 6,200 meat and poultry processing plants, condemned the carcasses of 60,174 head of livestock, and more than 7.7 million carcasses of poultry during the period. USDA has said FSIS will be on rolling furloughs during the sequester, an action that might cause meat and poultry processing plants to slow or reduce operations to match the availability of inspection services. Last quarter, FSIS personnel performed more than 1.6 million verification procedures to check on plant operations, finding an overall compliance rate of 98.6 percent. In addition to reporting on the overall workload, the FSIS quarterly report also logs the administration and criminal actions taken by agency investigators. In an administrative action, FSIS suspended inspection services for Randolph, NE-based Nebraska’s Finest Meats. FSIS said it withdrew inspection services “after acts of intimidation and interference against inspection personnel by Paul and Kelley Roseburg, owners of Nebraska’s Finest Meats. On Nov. 9, 2012, FSIS filed a complaint to withdraw inspection services from Camacho’s Food Processing in Salinas, CA after the firm and its owner, Oscar Camacho, were convicted of misdemeanors for the unlawful preparation of meat food products. The enforcement report also disclosed that inspection services were withdrawn from Gardena, CA-based Paisano Meats Inc. after owner Jose Cruz Lopez and the firm were convicted of the criminal felony of offering and selling adulterated meat products. Also, on Nov. 21, 2012, Rubio’s Ranch in Miami lost its customer exempt operations status for repeated failures to operate in a sanitary manner, maintain records, and “other noncompliance that threaten food safety and the public health.” There were two criminal convictions recorded during the quarter, both on Dec. 3, 2012 and both involving the Hichin’ Post Steak Co. Inc. Craig Cunningham, Vice President, was sentenced to probation for one year, and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for one misdemeanor count of misbranding poultry products. Jason Cunningham, general manager, was sentenced to one-year probation, ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and $5,453 additional restitution for one misdemeanor counts of conspiracy in use of the USDA mark of inspection without authorization. Both Hitchin’ Post executives were indicted in January 2012, and entered plea agreements in August 2012. Their cases were handled by the U.S. District Court for Kansas. Angel Busurot entered a plea of guilty in Miami on Nov. 20, 2012 at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to one count of the sale of uninspected swine meat for human consumption. He’d previously been charged with five counts. Sentencing was pending at year-end. Gelio Hernandez, also of Miami, entered a plea in the Southern District on Oct. 10, 2012 of two counts of inhumane slaughter of swine and sale for human consumption. He also was not sentenced by year-end. The Trinh Company in San Jose saw its owner, Jenny H. Ma, and employee, Linda Maj, indicted on Aug 24, 2010 in U.S. District Court for Northern California. They are charged with two misdemeanor and two felony counts of causing meat to be misbranded and falsely represented as having passed inspection. During the quarter, the Office of Program Evaluation, Enforcement & Review at FSIS issued 195 “Notices of Warning” to establishments coming under its jurisdiction.