Inspection personnel from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) had a busy first quarter of the fiscal year 2021. Livestock inspections totaled 43.3 million with 66, 875 carcasses condemned. And there were more than 2.3 billion poultry inspections with more than 2.6 million carcasses condemned.
The inspection levels for the first quarter were significantly higher than the typical 3-month period. Anytime livestock production is more than 40 million head or when poultry production tops 2 billion birds, it stands out when compared to historic data. The federal fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2020, and runs through Sept. 31, 2021.
According to the Quarterly Enforcement Report, “FSIS inspection program personnel perform thousands of inspection procedures in federally inspected establishments each day to determine whether or not they are in compliance with regulatory requirements. Each time inspection program personnel make a noncompliance determination they complete a Noncompliance Record (NR). An NR is a written record that documents non-compliance with FSIS regulations. An NR notifies the establishment that there is noncompliance and that they should take action to remedy the situation and prevent its recurrence.”
During the first quarter of FY 2021, FSIS inspection personnel performed 1.8 million inspection procedures, documenting 22,260 instances of non-compliance, for a 98.8 percent compliance rate. These NRs include a variety of noncompliance determinations, ranging from non-food safety issues to serious breakdowns in food safety controls.
When non-compliance occurs repeatedly, or when an establishment fails to prevent adulterated products from being produced or shipped, the FSIS takes action to control products and may take enforcement action under its rules.
Appeals of NR’s for the first quarter totaled 342. Upon review, 105 appeals were granted, and 86 denied. Another 58 were pending while 93 resulted in modifications.
Enforcement actions for the period include a mix of adjudicatory, administrative, civil, and criminal actions.
Hamzah Slaughter House LLC, Williamsport, MD, entered into a Consent Decision and Order with FSIS as settlement of administrative action to indefinitely withdraw federal inspection services from the establishment.
The order is effective for a 3-year period and contains provisions to ensure employees do not assault, intimidate, or interfere with FSIS personnel in the conduct of their duties, and other terms related to food safety, compliance, and enforcement. Previously, the FSIS filed a complaint to permanently withdraw federal inspection services for repeated instances of alleged intimidation, interference, harassment, and/or assault.
Civil penalties were paid by GHE Inc. of Roxbury, MA, and Chicago’s Keeley Food Service Inc. GHE entered into a Civil Penalty Stipulation Agreement by which it agreed to pay the stipulated civil penalty of $680 for violations of the EPIA. Keeley Food entered into a Civil Penalty Stipulation Agreement under which it agreed to pay the stipulated civil penalty of $1,060 for violations of the EPIA.
The USDA targeted Rainbow Food Group Inc. and Robert Kalkan, president, Little Falls, NJ, for civil injunction action. In the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, a complaint was filed to permanently enjoin the firm and Robert Kalkan from committing violations of the FMIA and PPIA. The complaint alleges that the firm caused meat and poultry products to become misbranded, offered for sale and transportation, sold misbranded and non-federally inspected meat and poultry products, and failed to maintain required records.
Criminal actions were reported over New England Meat Packing LLC, Debbie Smith, HACCP manager, and Memet Beqiri, president, Stafford Springs, CT, and Rhode Island Beef and Veal, Michael A. Quattrucci and Joel Quattrucci, Johnson, RI.
In the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut:
- Debbie Smith was sentenced to 1 year of probation, 100 hours of community service, and a special assessment fee of $100. Previously, Smith pleaded guilty to one felony count of making and using a false document in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.
- Memet Beqiri was sentenced to 2 years of probation, a $15,000 fine, 100 hours of community service, and a special assessment fee of $100. Previously, Beqiri pleaded guilty to one felony count of making and using a false document and aiding and abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001 and 18 U.S.C. 2.
And in the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, the firm, Michael A. Quattrucci, and Joel Quattrucci were indicted for multiple violations of the FMIA. The Indictment charges the parties with using an official USDA mark of the inspection without authorization in violation of 21 U.S.C. 611, falsely representing that beef had been federally inspected in violation of 21 U.S.C. 611, and preparing beef without complying with the FMIA inspection requirements in violation of 21 U.S.C. 610.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)