FSIS Quarterly Enforcement Report cites criminal actions related to food safety

FSIS Quarterly Enforcement Report cites criminal actions related to food safety

by Sue Jones
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Criminal convictions top the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS’s) final quarterly enforcement report for 2020.

Flavor Trade LLC and owner Shannon Kimball, of Kansas City, MO,; and, New England Meat Packing LLC, and HAACP manager Debbie Smith, and president Memet Beqiri of Stafford Springs, CT, entered guilty pleas.

Flavor Trade and Kimball pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri for the sale of uninspected meat and misuse of an official device. The court imposed a three-year probation with an order to pay restitution of $33,053.86 to victims.

Smith and Beqiri are awaiting sentencing by U.S. District Court for Connecticut after each pleads guilty to one felony count of making and using a false document and aiding and abetting.

The FSIS quarterly enforcement report is for the three-month period ending Sept. 30, the final date of the federal fiscal year (FY). In the report, FSIS documents all of its enforcement activity during the period, from the most minor instance of documented noncompliance at regulated establishments to felonies brought in federal courts.

FSIS achieved an overall compliance rate of 98.6 percent for the quarter and FY 2020. During the quarter, FSIS inspection personnel carried out more than 1.8 million verification procedures resulting in 26,005 Noncompliance Records (NR).

During the fourth quarter regulated establishments appealed 422 NR rulings, 121 of those were granted and 123 were denied. Appeals resulted in 102 NRs begin modified with 76 still pending at the end of the period.

The enforcement report also measures activity levels during the quarter. Imported meat and poultry hit the highest levels for the fiscal year during the final period — 1.225 billion pounds presented for routine re-inspection.

Domestic production of livestock and poultry were also at or near record levels for the year. FSIS inspection personnel examined more than 42 million livestock carcasses, condemning 62,294 carcasses. Almost 2.5 billion poultry carcasses were inspected with more than 2.7 million condemned.

The FSIS sent “prohibited activity notices” to Ke’Fruists LLC in Carolina, PR; Mesquite Senior Meats in Mesquite, NV; and Stripes in Monahans, TX. The nature of the prohibited activity was not disclosed in the report.

The FSIS also took administrative action against 84 companies during the period, resolving issues with 49.

As for the large establishments regulated by FSIS, administrative actions were taken against 14 during the final quarter of FY 2020.

Inhumane treatment during slaughter caused action against Agri Star Meat and Poultry in Postville, IA; FPL Food in Auqustaa, GA; Indiana Packers in Delphi, IN; Prestage Foods of Iowa in Eagle Grove, IA; Swift Beef in Grand Island, NE: Swithpork in Marshalltown, IA and Ottumwa, IA; and Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, MO.

Typically, FSIS action involves a short-term suspension or one-day closure. Other large plants were cited during the quarter for Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures, HAACP, or Sanitation performance standards. There were no reports of interference or assault among the large plants. Three citations were over regulatory control actions.

FSIS employs about 9,500 people to inspect about 6,500 meat, poultry, and egg product plants and import establishments throughout the United States.  Numerous FSIS inspection personnel have responsibilities in multiple plants and work “patrol/relief assignments” traveling from plant to plant on a daily basis.   The agency headquarters is in Washington D.C.  Its annual budget is about $1 billion.

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