A Brooklyn importer that asked New York City for a $2.5 million tax break a year ago — and was put on warning by the FDA this past fall for food safety violations — is recalling dried fish because it could cause botulism poisoning. Krasnyi Oktyabr Inc. of Brooklyn, NY, is recalling Vobla (Roach) Dry Eviscerated Salted Fish and Bream Dry Eviscerated Salted Fish because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life threatening illness or death, according to a recall notice on the Food and Drug Administration’s website. “Consumers are warned not to use the products even if they do not look or smell spoiled,” the recall notice states. “Botulism, a potential fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, blurred or double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing weakness of other muscles abdominal distention and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.” The products were imported from Russia and sold to retail stores in New York and California from February through April this year. The products are sold in un-coded clear, vacuum pack plastic bags, each weighing 5.29 ounces. Labeling states:
- “VOBLA (ROACH) DRY EVISCERATED SALTED FISH, UPC 4606495-001308”
- “BREAM – DRY EVISCERATED SALTED FISH, UPC 4606495001346”
The potential for contamination was noted after routine sampling and inspection by the US Food and Drug Administration and subsequent analysis of the Bream fish by the FDA confirmed that the Bream fish was not properly eviscerated prior to processing. No illnesses had been reported as of Monday in connection with this problem. Consumers who have purchased Vobla Dry Eviscerated Salted Fish and Bream Dry Eviscerated Salted Fish are advised not to eat them, but should return them to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 718-858-6720. FDA warning cited temperature controls, record problems On Nov. 4, 2015, the FDA sent a warning letter to Grigoriy Katsura, president of Krasnyi Oktyabr Inc., listing three “significant violations” at the company’s operation at Sunset Industrial Park. FDA inspectors observed the violations of the federal food code while at the seafood processing and importing business on June 15-16 and Aug. 5 and 7 in 2015. “Accordingly, your dried salted sprats, dried salted horse mackerel fillets, refrigerated vacuum packaged salted dried bream fish and refrigerated vacuum packaged salted dried Caspian roach (vobla) are adulterated, in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health,” the warning letter stated. Specific violations observed by FDA inspectors were:
- The HACCP plan (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan) for refrigerated vacuum packaged salted dried bream fish and refrigerated vacuum packaged salted dried Caspian roach (vobla) was not adequate to control the hazard of Clostridium botulinum toxin formation.
- The company could not provide receiving records for refrigerated vacuum packaged salted dried bream fish and refrigerated vacuum packaged salted dried Caspian roach (vobla). Also unavailable were records of corrective actions when the company’s cooler temperatures exceeded critical limits on August 1, 3 and 4, 2015.
- Federal law requires certain records to be maintained in English, but the company had records that are not in English.
April 2015 tax break request In an application for $2.5 million in tax breaks from New York City, Krasnyi Oktyabr Inc. is described by owners as “a leading importer and wholesale distributor of Russian ethnic confectioneries, candy and ethnic foods to grocery stores all over the country.” The request for a mortgage recording tax waiver of $80,000 and 25-year tax abatements and extensions totaling $2.44 million was part of a $5 million expansion plan the importing company was working on. Company officials estimated the city would see a benefit of $4.7 million generated in direct and indirect taxes by the importer during its proposed 25-year tax break. The status of the application and expansion plans were not immediately known Monday when the recall notice was filed. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)