US seafood processors halt food preparation after listeria complaints

Published on
July 18, 2018

Two Staten Island, New York, U.S.A.-based food processors have agreed to stop preparing products such as salt-cured and picked fish due to Listeria monocytogenes.

In late May, the United States Department of Justice filed a federal complaint against Euroline Foods, LLC, and Royal Seafood Baza, Inc., alleging that the processors violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) by processing and distributing ready-to-eat fish and fishery products, vegetable salads, and cheese products in a facility with chronic unsanitary conditions. 

FDA inspections found listeria monocytogenes at the companies’ joint processing facility, but the processors “failed to put in place adequate measures to reduce the risk of health hazards such as L. monocytogenes, Clostridium botulinum, and scombrotoxin,” according to a DOJ press release.

On 16 July, U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan for the Eastern District of New York entered a consent decree of permanent injunction between the United States and Euroline Foods, LLC, Royal Seafood Baza, Inc.; the companies’ co-owners Eduard Shnayder, Syoma Shnayder and Albert Niyazov; and a manager, Oleg Polischouk.

“FDA investigators found widespread L. mono contamination at the Euroline and Royal Seafood facility,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Melinda K. Plaisier said in a press release. “With this agreement, the company will not be able to bring any contaminated products or potentially contaminated products to market. Conditions where their products were being produced were unacceptable, and the FDA took action to protect Americans.”

The consent decree prohibits the defendants from “receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding, labeling and/or distributing foods at this facility, or any other facility that receives, prepares, processes, packs, labels, holds and/or distributes food that presents a L. mono hazard, in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) until the defendants meet certain requirements,” the FDA said in the release.

However, the consent decree does not prohibit defendants from receiving, holding, and distributing food that remains completely sealed and enclosed by a container, and is in compliance with the FDCA, or from operating retail food establishments.

According to the original complaint, the FDA inspected the defendants’ facility in 2015, 2016, and 2017. These inspections revealed that the defendants failed to comply with the FDCA Act and its implementing regulations, including the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (“HACCP”) regulations and Current Good Manufacturing Practice (“CGMP”) regulations.

During the 2016 inspections, the FDA’s investigators conducted environmental sampling and found L. mono from the seafood and vegetable processing environments, as well as continuing inadequate sanitation practices by the company’s employees. 

While the company subsequently conducted a voluntary, nationwide recall of its ready-to-eat herring products for L. mono concerns and defendants made assurances that they were correcting its violations, the FDA’s subsequent inspections revealed that the company had not implemented adequate corrective actions, the agency said.

Photo courtesy of Euroline Foods

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