USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) completed the first quarter of the federal fiscal year without major use of either the civil or criminal courts, which is a bit unusual. The FSIS quarterly enforcement report for the three month period ending Dec. 31, 2016, shows no seizures or injunctions or other major civil actions and nothing on the criminal front.
FSIS is charged with the continuos inspection of the nation’s production of meat, poultry, eggs, and more recently, catfish. More than 6,200 inspection personnel are assigned to carry out the inspection inside private slaughter and processing facilities.
All totaled, FSIS conducted more than 1.7 million verification procedures with a 98.5 percent compliance rate in the quarter.
Enforcement actions topped out with the imposition of civil penalties against EMBE Food Distributors in Brooklyn, NY, and Mary’s Produce in McAllen, TX. EMBE entered into a Civil Penalty Stipulation Agreement with FSIS under which it paid a stipulated civil penalty of $2,345. Mary’s Produce reached a similar agreement requiring payment of a $660 civil penalty.
Under exempt actions, FSIS served a Notice of Ineligibility (NOI) to the Lebanese Butcher Slaughter House Inc. in Warrenton, VA. It requires the firm to terminate its custom exempt operations for failure to operate in a sanitary manner, leading to direct adulteration of custom exempt produce.
An NOI was also served on Manuel’s Ranch in Hialeah, FL, and its owner, Manuel Coto. The notice requires the company to summarily terminate custom exempt operations based on failure to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements, and the conditions of the Consent Agreement.
FSIS filed to withdraw inspection services from D&H Meats LLC and its owner Jared L. Fry, both of Vanlue, OH, and Zabiha Meats, and its owner Daniel Ault, both of Fairmount, IN. The withdrawal from Fry’s establishment was based on his two misdemeanor convictions involving inspection violations. The action involving Ault was over recurring violations.
The Valley Meat Packing Corp. entered into a Consent Decision and Order with FSIS, which allows it to resume inspection operations and contains measures such as development and implementation of a robust systematic humane handling and slaughter program, employee and management training to ensure the humane handling and slaughter of animals, audits of the humane handling and slaughter program by an independent qualified third party, measures such as non- intimidation and Interference, standards of conduct, and other terms to ensure the firm’s compliance with FSIS statutory and regulatory requirements.
Previously, FSIS filed a complaint to indefinitely suspend slaughter inspection services based on the establishment’s repetitive, egregious violations of humane handling and slaughter rules and for ongoing acts of intimidation, interference and harassment against FSIS staff in the conduct of their duties under the Federal Meat Inspection Act.
The FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA) issued 322 warning notices during the quarter with the Northeast Region seeing the most action. Another 16 business received “prohibited activity notices” from FSIS.
Non-compliance records (NRs) were appealed 296 times by the regulated establishments during the quarter, and in 79 instances those appeals were successful. In another 140 instances the appeals were denied, and 33 were modified. Appeals are pending in 44 cases.
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