July 21, 2019

New York City Fish Closed for Listeria Problems

Federal Judge Roslynn Mauskopf granted the U.S. government’s request for a permanent injunction against New York City Fish on Monday, March 30, 2014. Inspectors found that the fish had been processed and packed under “unsanitary conditions where it may be contaminated by filth”. The motion for preliminary injunction had been filed on May 17, 2013.

GavelsInspectors looked at the facility six times between 2006 and 2012 and found Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in the environment and in the finished product. In addition, there was no evidence that many of the company’s employees had been trained to ensure compliance with the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Employees were observed spraying antimicrobial solution in the brining solution and spraying it directly on in-process seafood products during drying and during packaging. Those solutions are not approved for use directly on food.

The judge found that the facility’s owners had not taken sufficient corrective action. The company had changed its name from NY Fish to New York City Fish, Inc. The company also introduced evidence at the last minute that they had hired experts to solve the problem.

But Ronald Pace, FDA’s New York District Director, wrote a warning letter to the company’s owners in 2010 that stated, “based on the most recent FDA inspection, however, it is apparent that L. monocytogenes continues to reside in your facility. Once established in a production area, humans or machinery can facilitate the pathogen’s movement to and contamination of food-contact surges and finished product.”

The company’s smoked salmon was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, most likely from slicer blades, cutting and cleaning room floors and walls, drain covers, and rinse areas. Seventy swabs were positive for L. monocytogenes-positive isolates in samples collected by inspectors in 2008 and 2009. In addition, finished product samples of  vacuum packaged smoked salmon and salted herring products tested positive for the pathogenic bacteria.

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