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Feds take a Long Island City food company to court over filthy conditions and contaminated seafood

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

After repeated federal attempts to get a Long Island City seafood producer to clean up its act, the federal government is now taking legal measures that would stop it from distributing potentially contaminated food.

On Aug. 20, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue announced that his office’s Consumer Protection Branch has filed a civil complaint against Foo Yuan Food Products Company on Borden Avenue in Long Island City. The legal action came at the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which detected a litany of violations during inspections of the facility in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

According to Donoghue, Foo Yuan allegedly allowed unsanitary conditions in areas of the facility where refrigerated or frozen, ready-to-eat fish balls, fried fish cakes and fried fish balls were made, packed and stored. The conditions led to the risk of potentially deadly bacteria growth in food items, including clostridium botulinum (which causes botulism) and listeria.

In a May 2015 letter to Foo Yuan management, FDA New York District Director Ronald M. Pace wrote that inspectors found that “various fish ball and fish cake products are adulterated, in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.”

During the most recent inspection, FDA agents found evidence that Foo Yuan failed to maintain cleanliness and failed to ensure that all persons in direct contact with food or food packing materials took the proper steps to guard against contamination.

“When food processors ignore federal laws concerning the preparation of food, they subject the public to serious health risks,” Donoghue said. “The Department of Justice has asked the Court to stop the defendants from processing, packaging or distributing any more food until they establish that they can comply with federal laws and regulations designed to avert those health risks.”

The civil complaint includes Foo Yuan’s owner and president, Hsing Chang, and its secretary, Susan Chang. The charges within the complaint include violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

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