In the agency’s fourth and final quarterly enforcement report, its disclosed the two Consent Orders. The first was against the MSM Meat Co. in Colquitt, GA, allowing the firm to resume inspection operations upon verification that the company’s program meets the requirements set out in the order.
MSM Meat was suspended on July 13 based on their failure to prevent egregious inhumane treatment of livestock intended for slaughter. The Aug. 18 order contains requirements for proper restraint of animals before they are stunned. This procedures for monitoring and maintenance of the stunning device. At the same time, FSIS filed a complaint to withdraw federal inspection services.
The second Consent Order was issued on Sept. 19 to California Qili’s Braised Chicken LLC. It requires Qili’s to adhere to sanitation, allergen and pest control standards. The FSIS also filed a complaint to withdraw inspection services from Qili’s based on its sanitation and food safety violations, especially rodent droppings and insects in and around the establishment.
In a quarter when FSIS did not take any criminal enforcement actions, those civil actions were among the most severe taken by the agency. And they were not the only ones where FSIS used its big hammer of filing to withdraw federal inspection services. No poultry, meat, eggs or catfish may be sold for human consumption without USDA inspection, meaning withdrawal is tantamount to putting a company out of business unless steps are taken to address FSIS concerns.
An administrative complaint to refuse federal inspection to D&H Meats LLC in Vanlue, OH, was filed in October. The action was taken because of two misdemeanor convictions on charges related to the application of official state marks of inspection and products not inspected by owner Jared L. Fry.
Oceanpro Industires, doing business as Profish in Washington D.C. and its vice president Timothy J. Lydon entered into a settlement with FSIS for Lacy Act violations. A Consent Order contains measures such a a conduct policy, recordkeeping and ethics provisions. FSIS earlier filed a complaint to withdraw federal inspection services.
FSIS entered into an amended Consent Decision and Order with Daniel Ault, owner of Zabiha Halal Meats in Fairmont, IN. It allows the firm to resume operations. Ault earlier agreed to enact compliance programs and ethics training. Previously, FSIS withdrew inspection services after Ault was convicted of a felony.
FSIS served Notices of Ineligibility (NOIs) to 5 Alarm Smokehouse and Custom Butchering in Mt. Pleasant, MI, and to Lebanese Butcher Slaughter Hose Inc. in Warrenton, VA. Kirk McQueen, owner of 5 Alarm, was ordered to terminate operations for failure to maintain and operate in a sanitary manner. The same order was given to Lebanese Butcher for “serious regulatory deficiencies.”
The enforcement report for July 1 to Sept. 30 period says the FSIS compliance rate was 98.4 percent. That is based on FSIS personnel performing 1,737,699 verification procedures and documenting 29,073 noncompliance records or NRs.
Most NRs are corrected but 347 went to appeals during the quarter. Appeals were granted in 99 cases, and denied in 146. Another 58 resulted in a modified NR and 68 appeals from the quarter remained open at year-end.
With an annual budget topping $1 billion, and a staff of around 10,000, FSIS provides continuous inspection at more than 6,200 meat and poultry plants in the U.S. And based on the production numbers, also contained in the enforcement report, the USDA meat inspectors are staying busy.
At domestic slaughter facilities for livestock and poultry, volumes inspected hit record highs during the quarter. Domestic livestock carcasses inspections hit 38,606,064, the high for the year. Imported meat and poultry was slightly off from two other quarters, but strong at 1.017 billion pounds.
Administrative actions were taken at only 21 “large plants” employing 500 or more. At 14, FSIS took action over possible inhumane handling of animals. The agency has been targeting animal handling during the past year.