Administrative actions were taken or pending at 21 large establishments during the final quarter of the federal fiscal year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The agency has jurisdiction over meat, poultry, catfish, and certain egg products.
Violations at the 21 operations included not meeting sanitation performance standards (13); not adhering to the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan; inhumane treatment during slaughter (7); and not following Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (6).
Also the troubled Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Fort Morgan, CO, was written up for interference or assault of FSIS personnel. And, FSIS reported Cargill, Clemens Food Group, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Tyson Fresh Meats each had violations at two plants during the period.
The FSIS quarterly enforcement report covers the period from July 1 to Sept. 30. It was the fourth and final quarter of the federal fiscal year 2018. The 21 meat and poultry companies were suspended 10 times during the period, usually for a day, but sometimes longer.
Among the 21 operation cited, Philadelphia-based Preferred Freezer Services violated a regulatory control action by transporting imported product that had been refused entry for re-export with agency authorization. Also St. Joseph-based Triumph Foods produced and shipped adulterated food, according to FSIS.
Other USDA establishments are categorized as either “small” or “very small” plants. Actions were taken or pending at 60 “small plants and at 96 “very small” plants. Like the large plants, most of the smaller facilities were also suspended for short periods of time for the same kinds of infractions.
In major criminal actions against individuals during the period, FSIS was successful in seeing an indictment brought against Randal Hamby and Antillio Graniello, officials of the Atlanta-based Amigos Meat Distributors for conspiracy and intentional violations of the federal poultry act. They were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. According to the charges, the pair allowed poultry products to become adulterated and misbranded, forged an official device and mark, and used it without authorization. The criminal trial is pending.
In U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, a federal judge sentenced Victor H. Gonzalez of the El Milagro Nursery Inc. in North Loxahatchee, FL, to three years probation, a $75,000 fine, and $100 special assessment for one felony count of knowingly slaughtering and handling livestock inhumanely.
In Pine Bluff, AR, the FSIS filed a complaint to withdraw inspection services from Summit Poultry because of “repetitive failures” by the firm to implement an effective food safety program. Summit Poultry then promised to implement such a plan with necessary auditing and FSIS agreed to a Consent Order that continues inspection services.
Two companies paid civil fines for violations of the Egg Production Inspection Act (EPIA). DSD Warehouse Sales in Saint Pauls, NC, paid $560 and Win Wing Trading Co. in Roxbury, MA, paid $460 — both to satisfy civil fines imposed by FSIS.
FSIS also filed a civil complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to permanently enjoin the New York-based George Meat Market Inc. and Mr. Ng and Ms. Ng from further violations of the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA).
In U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, FSIS entered a permanent injunction and Consent Decree to prevent three Puerto Ricans from slaughtering more than 20,000 birds in any calendar year and to maintain accurate records.
Fall River, MA-based Mario’s Lebanese Syrian Bakery and its owner Maroun El Lakis entered into a settlement agreement with FSIS that includes $7,500 civil penalty for violations of the Federal Meat Inspection Act. (FMIA)
USDA meat and poultry inspectors ended the final quarter of FY 2018 by examining 39.2 million livestock and 2.4 billion poultry carcasses, numbers that were roughly on par with production for earlier in the year. Only the first quarter’s livestock production, which reached almost 51.3 million head, was unusually high.
The Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA) reported detention actions involving 3.7 million pounds of meat, poultry and egg products and almost all was taken in the Southwest region. For all of FY 2018 year, OIEA detained almost 10 million pounds of meat, poultry and eggs in 308 separate actions. OIEA also issued 236 warning letters during the quarter.
During the last quarter, FSIS took 81 administrative actions and closed 59 cases. For the fiscal year, 310 administrative actions were initiated by the agency and 270 cases were closed.
FSIS personnel documented noncompliance and compliance with 1.7 million verification procedures during the quarter and found regulated establishment were 98.4 percent compliant. The compliance rate for the entire fiscal year was 98.5 percent. Appeals were filed over non-compliance records (NRs) 270 during the period, and of those appeals 63 were granted while 104 were denied. There were 55 appeals pending and the appeal ended with a modified NR 48 times.
For the 2018 federal fiscal year, FSIS ended with 260 pending appeals out of 1,241 filed.
More than 1.137 billion pounds of imported meat an poultry products were chosen for routine re-inspection before being allowed into the United States. Another 2.2 million pounds of eggs were also put through re-inspection. About 8.5 million pounds of meat and poultry and more than 4,000 pounds of eggs were refused entry to the USA during quarter.
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