USDA Cites Meat Processing Plants for Animal Treatment, Food Safety Concerns

The USDA’s Food Safety and Food Inspection Service (FSIS) released its report for the first quarter of the federal fiscal year and it includes a few red marks for large meat plants regarding animal handling. The execution report covers the first three months of fiscal 2016, from October 1 to December 31, 2015. FSIS enforcement activity during the first quarter ranged from routine administrative actions for non-compliance (NR) cases to filings federal courts. Here are some of these actions, starting with administrative complaints: FSIS has issued an administrative decision and consent order in a matter with Mountainair Heritage Meat Processor of Mountainair, NM. The company agreed to “a strong systematic program of humane handling and slaughter with training of employees and management.” FSIS had lodged a complaint, indefinitely suspending its inspection services. Rio Tex Wholesale Meat Processing has accepted a consent decree with FSIS to step up sampling and testing of E. coli and Salmonella. FSIS had also filed a consent decree and an order withdrawing federal inspection of the company. OH-based D&H Meats LLC has been the subject of a complaint for refusal of federal inspection services to the company due to two federal misdemeanors committed by its owner. The company is currently operating on an Ohio inspection grant. Halal Meat Slaughter House, based in Norwood, NC, and its owner, Zafer R. Kafozi, have reached a consent decision and order with FSIS, calling for a business code, ethics training and other measures. The agreement limits Kafozi’s employment capacity and participation. Previously, he had been convicted of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen goods unrelated to food. Zabiha Halal Meats, based in Fairmount, IN, and Daniel Ault, its owner, accepted an executive order and consent order, agreeing to add an ethics and compliance, record keeping and other measures. FSIS had decided to withdraw Ault’s inspection services after his felony conviction for improper disposal of dead animals. In the first three months of the 2016 federal fiscal year, FSIS inspected more than 38.1 million head of cattle and 2.24 billion poultry carcasses. During that time, there were 113 detentions totaling 590,420 pounds. FSIS has issued a dozen notices of prohibited activities at: Cafe Mawal (Houston); Dadu Ice Cream Inc. (Van Nuys, California); E&J Distribution (Puyallup, WA); Giant Food (Mechanicsburg, PA); Grand Distribution LLC (Menlo Park, Calif.); Hotpie Inc. (Fort Pierce, Florida); Kalinda (San José, California); Kapowsin Meat Inc. (Graham, WA); Ralphs (Newport Beach, Calif.); Royal Frozen Food (Los Angeles); Safeway Distribution Center (Tracy, CA); and Safeway Inc. (Pleasanton, California). FSIS prohibited activity notices typically involve failures involving recall notices, such as failing to notify a recipient or customer, or offering a recalled product for sale. FSIS also took administrative action on its own against 90 companies during the quarter. These include notices of intended application (NOIE), suspensions and withholdings. FSIS provides continuous inspection at approximately 6,400 meat, poultry and egg production facilities across the country. In the large factories, administrative measures were taken against 18 factories, including 13 for violations of inhuman treatment or slaughter. Large factories with inhuman treatment action include: Cargill Meats (Fresno, CA); Cargill Meats (Fort Morgan, CO); Clemens Food Group (Hatfield, Pennsylvania); Hillshire Brands (Newborn, Tennessee) JBS (Grand Island, NE); JBS Swift (Louisville, Kentucky); Quality pork processors (Austin, MN); Smithfield Farmland (Crete, NE); Swift Pork Co. (Worthington, MN); Tyson Fresh Meats, (Logansport, IN); and Tyson Fresh Meats (Dakota City, NE). Administrative actions for inhumane treatment have been taken against Tyson in Logansport on three occasions. There were five major plant sanitation performance stand violations and four administrative actions for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) violations. Three suspensions that occurred among large factories were reinstated on the same day. Administrative action was taken against 35 small factories for HACCP issues while 25 were drafted for sanitation issues and 23 for inhumane treatment cases. Action was taken against two factories, Bel Tex Corp. in Fort Worth and Central Valley Meat in Hanford, Calif., for meddling or assaulting USDA meat inspectors. HACCP violations dominate administrative action taken against very small factories. Several small factories were also caught operating “without the benefit of an inspection”. (To subscribe to Food Safety News for free, click here.)


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Boyd S. Abbott

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