They use to say breaking up is hard to do. For USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), it’s not really that difficult or uncommon. If FSIS decides there are reasons that it should not be providing meat, poultry or egg inspections at a specific company, it simply files a complaint — usually  in the nearest  federal district court — and those USDA meat and poultry inspectors can go elsewhere. No USDA inspectors means, a company is out of business because federal law requires the continuous inspection of meat, poultry and eggs to sell human food across state lines. In its third quarter enforcement report for 2016, FSIS moved to withdraw or deny inspections to four businesses. They include:

  • D&H Meats LLC owned by Jared L. Fry, in Vanlue, OH. The reason: Fry was convicted of two misdemeanors related to the application of official state marks of inspection to products that had not passed an inspection.
  • breakup_406x250Productos Dany, Daniel E. Martinez-Garcia, president, in Hatillo, PR. The reason: Martinez-Garcia was convicted of two misdemeanor counts involving the sale and distribution of uninspected meat and poultry products.
  • 5 Alarm Smokehouse and Custom Butchng owned by Kirk McQueen in Mt. Pleasant, MI. The reason: Because it failed to maintain and operate in a sanitary manner, resulting in adulterated products and documented deficiencies. FSIS filed a Notice of Ineligibility (NOE) on McQueen and the firm to terminate their custom exempt operations.
  • Lebanese Butcher Slaughterhouse Inc. in Warrenton, VA. The reason: An NOE was served because the firm was failing to operate in a sanitary manner, resulting in “direct alteration of custom exempt product.”

The actions came in the FSIS third quarter, which runs from April 1 to June 30. Federal agencies operate on a fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. FSIS also filed a Stipulated Agreement with a $950 civil penalty against Chicago-based Mt. Food Service Inc. Claudio O. Lopez Quevedo, doing business as Claudio O. Lopez, in Carolina, PR, was permanently enjoined from the sale or transporting of meat and poultry that is not inspected or misbranded. There were no criminal actions brought during the quarter, according to the enforcement report. The Office of Investigation, Education and Audit issued 258 Notices of Warning during the period, down from 295 in the second quarter, but up from 184 in the first. Most of the warnings go out to single location small businesses. FSIS measures its overall performance by how many “verification” procedures it performs along with how often inspectors document “noncompliance.” In the third period, about 6,500 inspectors conducted 1.726 million “verification” procedures and documented 26,535 incidents of noncompliance for a compliance rate of 98.5 percent. Non-compliance reports, or NRs, can be appealed. During the third quarter, 389 appeals were filed and 101 were granted. Sixty-one appeals resulted in modified NRs, and 169 were denied. The quarter left 58 appeals pending. For the first three-quarters of the year, there were 1,061 appeals of NRs. Of those, 317 were granted and 440 denied, with 143 modified and 161 waiting for decisions. At 36.155 million livestock carcasses and 2.323 billion poultry slaughters, production levels have been stable for all of fiscal 2016. FSIS sent Prohibited Activity Notices to Aurnish Enterprises Corp. in Woodside, NY; Costco Wholesale Corp. in Issaquah, WA; Freshology Inc. in Burbank, CA; Goya Foods Inc. in Jersey City, NJ;Great Giant Supermarket in Flint, MI; Hagberg’s Country Market in Lake Elmo, MN; Pepsico Caribean Inc. in Barceloneta, PR; Quirch Foods Co. in Miami; and Vons in Fresno, CA. Finally, 17 of the 22 large meat establishments that made the enforcement report for the third period were on the list for being on the receiving end of an FSIS administration act over inhuman treatment or slaughter violations. It tracks with previous enforcement reports that suggest FSIS has been targeting inhuman treatment for most of the past year. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)