The USDA’s quarterly report of enforcement activities by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is topped off by the criminal conviction of Antillio Graniello.
The U.S. District Court for the Nothern District of Georgia convicted and sentenced Graniello to six months in prison on June 27. He was an official of Amigos Meat Distributors in Atlanta. Graniello previously was indicted and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts. One was for causing poultry products to become adulterated and misbranded, and the other for forging an official device and mark in violation of federal law.
The latest quarterly enforcement report is for the third federal fiscal period, covering the time from April 1 to June 30, 2019.
FSIS pursued an adjudicatory action against New Orleans-based Bridge Foods Inc. during the period. FSIS previously filed a complaint to refuse and withdraw USDA inspection services over repetitive violations, both statutory and regulatory. At issue were Sanitation Performance Standards (SPS), Hazard Analysis, and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and procedures to control Listeria monocytogenes (Lm).
But on April 30, an administrative law judge dismissed the FSIS action after Bridge Foods voluntarily ceased asking for inspections.
FSIS also filed a complaint to withdraw federal inspection services from Southeastern Provision LLC in Bean Station, TN, related to repetitive statutory and regulatory violations.
Owner James M. Brantley had pleaded guilty to federal charges of willful failure to collect or pay taxes, wire fraud, and the unlawful employment of unauthorized aliens. A judge later sent him to federal prison for six months.
On April 2 Southeastern Provision LLC entered into Consent Decree and Order with FSIS, outlining how inspection services may resume at the company. Before the inspections can resume, the order calls for the following to occur:
- Revision of food safety plans,
- Implementation of Escherichia coli Biotype 1, E. coli O157: H7 and STECs sampling and testing,
- Address Specified Risk Materials,
- Appoint a plant manager,
- Appoint a food safety coordinator,
- Complete a third-party audit,
- Develop a compliance program, including ethics and business codes,
- Provide ethics training,
- Implement record keeping.
In a plea agreement for the criminal case, Brantley admitted to hiring illegal aliens as workers going back to the 1980s and paying them in cash at sharply reduced rates.
In another civil action in April, Houston’s Champion Food Service Inc. reached a Civil Penalty Stipulation Agreement with FSIS. It agreed to pay a stipulated civil penalty of $550 for violations of the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA).
In other civil actions, Suha Meas and Kay-Wo Zhang, owners of the Asian Market in Lancaster, PA, entered into a Stipulated Order with the U.S. Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania. Meas and Zhang agreed to pay $2,100 in civil fines and reimburse $800 in costs for breaching a previous Consent Decree. The U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania approved the deal.
Chien Hong Pham, owner, and Thomas Pham, manager, of the Kim Long Market LLC in Malden, MA, were permanently enjoined from committing violations of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA). The U.S. District Court for Massachusetts signed off on the Permanent Injunction. Previously, FSIS filed a complaint against the defendants for repeated FMIA violations.
FSIS filed a complaint on April 4 against Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm in Bird-in-Hand, PA, for violations of the federal meat and poultry inspections acts. Miller is contesting the charges in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The dispute won’t end until late this year at the earliest.
The U.S.District Court for the Eastern District of California approved a Consent Decree between Transhumance Holding Co. and FSIS.
The two-year agreement covers humane handling, including hiring a hiring coordinator, and slaughter compliance, including training and audit procedures. The holding company does business as Ellensburg Lamb Co. and Superior Farms, both based in Dixon, CA.
FSIS inspectors performed 1.76 million verification procedures during the quarter, resulting in 26,299 instances of documented noncompliance for a 98.5 percent compliance rate.
During the period, the private establishments inspected by FSIS filed 249 appeals of noncompliance actions. By the end of the quarter, FSIS granted 86 requests; denied 73, and left 47 pending. Another 43 resulted in some form of modification.
FSIS inspected less imported meat and poultry products during the quarter, but the number of pounds refused was up. In both previous quarters, FSIS re-inspected more than 1 billion pounds of meat and poultry products during each period.
For the recent period, however, the total fell to 958.6 million pounds. But, 14.6 million pounds were refused, up from 6.7 and 10.7 million pounds in the two previous fiscal quarters.
Livestock slaughter continued at an even pace with 40.063 million carcasses inspected, up a tick from 40.025 million during the previous period. Poultry carcass inspections, however, reached more than 2.421 billion for the quarter, the highest level for FY 2019.
The Office of Investigation, Enforcement, and Audit (OIEA) report 66 detention actions during the period, resulting in 287,311 pounds of meat, poultry, and eggs detained in enforcement actions.
OIEA also sent warning notices to 257 businesses during the period.
Prohibited activity notices during the quarter went to two 7-Eleven outlets in Chicago, Casey’s General Store in Jamestown, ND, Family Dollar in Fountain, CO, HEB Headquarters in San Antonio, Safeway in San Francisco, Sopakco Inc. in Mullins, SC, and U.S. Cold Storage in McDonough, GA.
Prohibited activity notices also apparently went out to gas stations and “C-Stops” in the Charlotte, MI, area.
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