|Food Safety and Inspection
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
Communications to Congress
A total of 941 detentions of adulterated meat and poultry products, with a corresponding weight of approximately 20,636,997 pounds, occurred during FY 1999. Some of the more significant product detentions include the following:
3,051,830 pounds of various meat products were detained at a public warehouse in Garden City, Kansas. The products were inadequately denatured so as to preclude their use as human food. The products were properly denatured and released.
5,027,563 pounds of meat and poultry wiener product was detained at a cold storage facility in Harahan, Louisiana. The product was adulterated by extraneous material (wood chips, dirt) and laboratory analysis of product samples confirmed the presence of Listeria. The product was voluntarily destroyed.
2,090,208 pounds of various meat and poultry products (wieners) were detained at a cold storage facility in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The products were adulterated by extraneous material (wood chips, dirt), and laboratory analysis of product samples confirmed the presence of Listeria. The products were voluntarily destroyed.
1,880,000 pounds of various meat products were detained at a public warehouse in Garden City, Kansas. The products were inadequately denatured so as to preclude their use as human food. The products were properly denatured and released.
FSIS inspects meat and poultry products and applies the marks of inspection when inspectors are able to determine that the products are not adulterated. FSIS may temporarily withhold the marks of inspection from specific products, suspend inspection, or withdraw inspection if a plant is not meeting crucial requirements. A withholding, suspension, or withdrawal action may be based on any of the following reasons related to the Pathogen Reduction and HACCP regulations:
In addition, a withholding, suspension, or withdrawal action may be taken by FSIS for any of these other reasons: unsanitary conditions; inhumane slaughtering of livestock; failure to destroy condemned product; or interference with inspection personnel.
In FY 1999, approximately 118 enforcement actions were initiated to stop inspection operations in Federal establishments. The vast majority of these actions were taken because of failures associated with the Pathogen Reduction and HACCP final rule and resulted in the resumption of inspection after FSIS received acceptable corrective and preventive action plans from plant officials. The following is a representative sample of these actions:
November 1998. A poultry processing plant in Livingston, California, received a Notice of Intended Enforcement Action from FSIS based on repetitive findings of fecal matter on poultry products. The plant provided a response to the notice outlining steps taken and planned to address the fecal findings. However, the plant's response was determined to be inadequate and inspection was suspended at the plant. After receiving revised corrective and preventive measures from the plant, FSIS allowed the plant to resume operations and held the suspension in abeyance. Verification activities performed by FSIS inspection personnel since the abeyance showed that the plantís corrective and preventive measures were effectively implemented. The case was subsequently closed with a letter of warning.
December 1998. FSIS suspended inspection at a meat and poultry processing plant in Forrest City, Arkansas. The suspension was supported by a substantial number of Processing Deficiency Records issued by FSIS to the establishment for pre-operational and operational sanitation failures. Repeated findings of Listeria in cooked ready-to-eat product also supported the suspension. In April 1999, the plant requested and was granted a 120-day voluntary suspension of inspection that was subsequently extended for another 120 days.
April 1999. FSIS temporarily suspended inspection at a meat and poultry processing plant in Barstow, California, based on intimidation of an FSIS inspector by plant management. Operations were allowed to resume after FSIS received acceptable corrective and preventive measures from plant officials.
May 1999. FSIS temporarily suspended the assignment of inspectors at a meat plant in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, due to inhumane slaughtering and handling of livestock. After receiving acceptable corrective and preventive measures, operations were allowed to resume and the matter was closed with a letter of warning.
September 1999. FSIS issued a Notice of Intended Enforcement Action to a poultry processing plant in Hurlock, Maryland, based on the failure of the plantís HACCP plan to prevent recurrence of zero tolerance (fecal) failures. The repetitive zero tolerance failures demonstrated ineffective process controls at the plant and plant officials' failure to implement corrective actions. After receiving corrective and preventive measures from the plant, FSIS held the suspension of inspection in abeyance.
The FMIA and PPIA authorize the Secretary to refuse to provide or withdraw inspection service if the recipient of inspection, or applicant requesting inspection, or anyone responsibly connected with either has been convicted in any Federal or State court of any felony or more than one violation of any law, other than a felony, based on transactions in food. The Acts also authorize the Secretary to withdraw inspection or suspend the assignment of personnel for other reasons such as for insanitary conditions. In lieu of withdrawing or denying inspection services, both parties can agree to the provisions and conditions of a Stipulation and Consent Decision (Consent), which terminates the administrative action. The following Consent Decisions are a representative sample of administrative actions entered into between FSIS and firms or individuals during FY 1999:
February 1999. A Harrison, Arkansas, custom facility and its president entered into a Consent with FSIS. Under the Consent, FSIS held the termination of custom exempt privileges in abeyance. The decision to terminate custom exempt privileges was based on the firm's failure to maintain the facility in a sanitary manner. The Consent required the firm's president to participate in a training or educational course covering facility sanitation, personal hygiene, sanitary dressing procedures for slaughter operations, and good manufacturing practices. The plant was also required to comply with applicable State and Federal statutes and meat regulations.
April 1999. A Sioux Center, Iowa plant and its president entered into a Consent with FSIS. The Consent specified that inspection services are withdrawn but withholds the withdrawal in abeyance so long as stated conditions are met. The decision to withdraw inspection resulted from the company president's conviction on two misdemeanor counts for selling, transporting, offering for sale or transportation, or receiving for transportation meat products which required to be inspected and so labeled, but which, in fact, were not. The Consent required, among other things, that all custom animals slaughtered and meat food products prepared by the plant that enter human food channels are sound, wholesome, not adulterated or misbranded, and are properly identified as "Not for Sale." Under the Consent, the firm was also required to provide the FSIS District Manager with quarterly reports detailing the number and kinds of livestock slaughtered on a custom basis, the quantities and types of products prepared, and the names and addresses of the owners of the livestock and products. In addition, the Consent required 4 weeks of actual suspension of inspection service.
August 1999. A plant located in Mayport, Pennsylvania, and its owner entered into a Consent with FSIS. The Consent settled an administrative action denying the firmís application for a Federal grant of inspection. The decision to deny inspection was based on the ownerís conviction of one misdemeanor for allowing cattle, swine and parts thereof to enter a federally inspected meat processing facility, without examination and inspection by Federal inspectors. The owner was also convicted of one misdemeanor for slaughtering and preparing meat or meat food products, which were not capable of use as human food, at an establishment preparing such articles for commerce, without conducting said slaughter and preparation under Federal inspection. The Consent, among other things, required that the owner be indefinitely divested from all financial dealings with the previous owner of the facility who was also convicted of a felony associated with the case. It also required that the corporation and owner maintain a complete and accurate daily record of all livestock or poultry purchased for slaughter or resale. In addition, the Consent required that the owner complete courses in food safety, HACCP, compliance with Federal and State regulations, and ethics in business practices.
The following Criminal enforcement Actions are representative of actions taken during FY 1999.
The following Civil Enforcement Actions are a representative sample of actions taken during FY 1999.
March 1999. A federally inspected Massachusetts meat packing company agreed to an Assurance of Discontinuance for allegedly selling mislabeled meat and poultry products in violation of Federal and State laws. The Attorney General, Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division, in Suffolk Superior Court filed this civil action. Under the Assurance of Discontinuance, the firm shall refrain from selling, offering for sale, or distributing or transporting misbranded meat or poultry products. The Assurance of Discontinuance also prohibits the application of inspection marks to products that are ineligible for the mark of inspection. The Assurance of Discontinuance is effective for 10 years.
June 1999. An Oregon federally inspected plant and custom operator agreed to an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, filed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. FSIS compliance officers found that the firm had prepared, sold, and offered for sale and transportation approximately 9,000 pounds of nonfederally inspected meat products in intrastate commerce. The firmís owner agreed to suspend custom slaughter and processing operations for 6 months, enter a 1 year probationary period, and pay $25,000 to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
In May 1999, a nationwide retail chain signed a Pre-Trial Diversion (PTD) Agreement with the Department of Justice. The PTD settles criminal actions documented against the firm in January 1995. The investigation revealed that the firm caused meat and poultry products to become adulterated and that retail stores sold and transported approximately 41,000 pounds of adulterated products. The products had been contaminated by rodent gnawing, urine, and fecal material. The PTD defers criminal prosecution for 18 months, provided that the firm implements sanitation and training programs at all of its retail and distribution facilities and abides with other stipulations included in the Agreement.
FSIS conducts a program to handle emergency actions concerning residue, microbiological, and other adulteration problems. This program oversaw actions on 55 meat and poultry product recalls during FY 1999 totaling 40.7 million pounds, including 18 beef recalls (33%), 11 poultry recalls (20%), 8 pork recalls (14%), and 18 multi-species recalls (33%). The primary cause of product recalls for meat and poultry was microbiological (76%). Other causes for recalls included: process/container defects (9%); undeclared substances (9%); extraneous material (2%); and mislabeling (2%).
Four recalls involved a total of 134,220 pounds of domestic egg products. The cause of the recalls was potential contamination with Salmonella. Products were destroyed or re-pasteurized and tested prior to entering commerce for human consumption.
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Phone: (202) 720-3897
Fax: (202) 720-5704
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