Personal Injury

U.S. Claims Seafood Producer A Threat to Public Health

Red snapper in cooler iStock 000010273646Small 435x289 U.S. Claims Seafood Producer A Threat to Public HealthFederal authorities are taking legal action against a Los Angeles smoked fish and seafood manufacturer in an effort to prevent adulterated and potentially harmfully foods from entering the market.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said it filed a civil action against Michel Cordon Bleu Inc. and its owner Michel G. Blanchet, a French-trained chef, who prepare, pack, store, and distribute vacuum-packed, ready-to-eat smoked fish and shellfish.

The government’s action mainly centers on the company’s failure to conduct a required hazard analysis to detect the presence of Listeria monocytogenes and Clostridium botulinum toxin formation in their vacuum-packed fish or fishery products.

The federal government’s Seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations mandate that every fish and fishery product processor conduct an analysis to determine whether any food-safety hazards are reasonably likely to occur during the processing of each kind of product it processes.

Multiple samples taken during the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) inspections of Michel Cordon Bleu’s Los Angeles facilities revealed the presence of Listeria. The FDA inspected the facilities in July and August of 2016 and found Listeria throughout the facility. A subsequent inspection of the same facilities in January and February of 2017 found the same problem.

During those inspections, FDA officials also noted several other deficiencies. For example, the company failed to manufacture, package and store foods under conditions and controls necessary to minimize the potential for growth of microorganisms and contamination.

The FDA also found the manufacturer failed to adequately monitor sanitation conditions and practices to assure conformance with current good manufacturing practices, and failed to take action to prevent contaminated products from entering the market.

Because of these violations, Michel Cordon Bleu and Michel Blanchet were preparing, packing, and holding seafood products in unsanitary conditions “whereby the seafood may have become contaminated with filth or may have been rendered injurious to health,” the U.S. Department of Justice said.

“When we find contaminants that can harm public health at a food manufacturing facility, we must take action to protect consumers,” said FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, Melinda K. Plaisier. “When necessary, we will seek legal action to ensure that manufacturers take steps to comply with food safety laws and regulations.”