US Moves to Halt Foo Yuan Seafood Products Distribution

The United States Department of Justice has filed a civil complaint against Foo Yuan Food Products Company, Inc. (Foo Yuan) of Long Island City, New York, as well as its owner and president, Hsing Chang, and secretary Susan Chang, to stop them from preparing and distributing adulterated seafood products in violation of federal law. The action was taken on August 20 at the request of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to the complaint, defendants prepare, pack, hold and distribute frozen and refrigerated and ready-to-eat fish balls, fried fish cakes and fried fish balls. The legal action, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that defendants failed to adequately control the risk of Clostridium botulinum and Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono.) growth and toxin formation in susceptible fish and fishery products.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that food processors comply with laws designed to ensure food safety,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “[We] will continue to work with the FDA to ensure that Americans are protected from potentially unsafe food.”

“When food processors ignore federal laws concerning the preparation of food, they subject the public to serious health risks,” stated US Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York. “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. This action demonstrates our commitment to protecting the public from potentially contaminated food.”

The FDA inspected Foo Yuan’s facility in 2014, 2016 and from December of 2017 to January of 2018. According to the complaint, significant deficiencies were documented on each occasion. For example, during the most recent inspection a failure to maintain the cleanliness of food contact sources was observed, as well as failure to ensure that all persons working in direct contact with food, food contact surfaces and food packing materials conform to hygienic practices to protect against food contamination.

The Department of Justice notes that, following the October 2014 inspection, FDA issued a warning letter notifying Foo Yuan and Hsing Chang that they were in violation of seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations, causing their products to be adulterated under the law.

The complaint alleges that defendants violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by causing adulterated food to be introduced into interstate commerce or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. It also alleges that the defendants further violated the law by causing food to become adulterated while it was being held for sale after the shipment of one or more of its components in interstate commerce.

A complaint is merely a set of allegations that, if the case were to proceed to trial, the government would need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence.