2020 has started busy for USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The quarterly enforcement report for the first period shows FSIS inspection program personnel had plenty to do.

Inspection program personnel performed 1,754,094 inspection procedures at USDA-inspected establishments between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019. Federal departments began the fiscal year 2020 on Oct. 1.

The enforcement report for the federal government’s first-quarter reports FSIS inspection personnel found 25,037 instances of noncompliance. Overall, it means the verification procedures found 98.6 percent compliance with regulatory requirements.

Livestock and poultry slaughterhouses were operating at peak levels during the quarter. Livestock carcasses inspected during the quarter reached 43,871,819, with 69,433 carcasses condemned. Poultry carcasses totaled 2.429 billion, with 3,942,303 carcasses condemned.

Those were the largest livestock and poultry quarterly slaughter totals since 2017.

Administrative actions against large establishments, however, were down from historical levels. FSIS took administrative actions against only 15 companies.

CS Beef, Kuna, ID; Eddy Packing Co., Yoakum, TX; JbS Swift Beef, Grand Island, NE; JBS Tolleson, Tolleson, AZ; Jennie O Turkey Store, Faribault, MN; Pitman Farms Inc., Moroni, UT; Sanderson Farms Inc., Kingston, NC; and Washington Beef, Toppenish, WA were written up for the three most common violations.

Those three include Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP), Hazard Analysis & and Critical Control Points (HACCP), and Sanitation performance standards (SPS).

The JBS owned Swift Beef Company in Greeley; CO had two of those three administration violations, SSOP and SPS. Swift Pork in Ottumwa, IA had violations for SSOP, HACCP, plus inhumane treatment during slaughter.

Tyson Food in Lexington, NE, faced a suspension, which was held in abeyance, for inhumane treatment during slaughter. At Pine Bluff, AR, however, Tyson was suspended for five days for violating a regulatory control action and HACCPand SPS violations.

Fremont, NE-based Wholestone Farms, was suspended for a week for inhumane treatment during slaughter. Preferred Freezer of Elizabeth, NJ and Philadelphia, PA also faced short term suspension for violating regulatory controls.

FSIS also reported more serious criminal and civil, administrative actions.

Memet Beqiri, president, and Debbie Smith, manager at New England Meat Packing, LLC, both plead guilty in federal court in Connecticut.  Both guilty pleas were to one count of making and using false documents. A judge will sentence the pair in March.

Christopher J. Leach, owner of The Beautiful Pig in Longview, WA, was convicted in U.S. District Court for Western Washington on two misdemeanor counts. The charges were for transporting uninspected meat and unauthorized use of the USDA mark of inspection.

Under a plea agreement, Leach was placed on probation for one year and required to submit to a Consent Decision and Order, requiring compliance with FSIS law and regulations if he should seek to resume operations.u

FSIS’s Office of Investigation, Enforcement, and Audit (OIEA) sent warning notices to 164 companies during the quarter. The Northeast Region accounted for 90 of those warnings.

During the quarter, FSIS reached Consent Decrees over federal inspection services. Captain Hook’s Cajun Seafood, LLC, and FSIS an amended Consent Decree, addressing the hiring of individuals with criminal convictions.

A.A. Meat Products Inc, and its owner and manager in Commerce, CA, agreed to a Consent Decree after several misdemeanors and a felony conviction for selling misbranded meat. FSIS previously filed a complaint to withdraw federal inspection services from A.A.

And Vernon, CA-based King Meat Service Inc and its owner and manager also entered into a Consent Decree with FSIS after the agency filed a complaint to withdraw federal inspection services from King Meat.

Finally, J&K Farms, LLC in Horton, AL, paid a civil penalty of $2,275 for violations of the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA).

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