December 14, 2017

Utah’s Ag-Gag Law Struck Down

An ag-gag law in Utah has been struck down. Earlier this month, the Utah attorney general said that no appeal would be filed in a federal court decision to end the law as unconstitutional. These laws criminalize video recording on ranches and farms that expose animal abuse. Members of animal rights groups pose as workers to film cruelty against animals. University of Denver law professor Justin Marceau, one of the attorneys who represents animal rights groups said, "[Ag-gag] laws in states like Iowa and Kansas are crying out for a challenge at this point." The state that have some type of this law on the books include Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, North Carolina and Alabama. Animal rights advocates say that these laws violate free speech and target … [Read more...]

Lawsuit Against EPA Over CAFOs Settled

According to Food & Water Watch, a federal court approved a settlement agreement, ending years of litigation over the Environmental Protection AGency's (EPA) release of concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This will protect the public's access to information about factory farm pollution. Industry groups sued the EPA for this information in 2013 when the agency gathered basic information about CAFOs from state agencies. A coalition of advocacy and consumer groups, including Food & Water Watch, the Environmental Integrity Project, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, wanted to protect access to this data. The settlement will require the EPA to withhold some information from the records collected from states, … [Read more...]

Permanent Injunction Entered Against Valley Milk Products

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia entered a consent decree of condemnation and permanent injunction against Valley Milk Products LLC on March 15, 2017. The decree orders the condemnation of seized milk powder products and prevents its distribution.   The seizure action was filed in the Western District of Virginia on November 18, 2016 at the request of the FDA. The complaint alleged that milk powder products were manufactured under insanitary conditions "whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, and/or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health. That complaint sought to seize and condemn certain adulterated milk powder products at Valley Milk Products’ Strasburg, Virginia facility." Valley Milk Products nonfat dry milk … [Read more...]

ConAgra Grocery Pleads Guilty to Shipping Contaminated Peanut Butter

ConAgra Grocery Products LLC, a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods Incorporated, pled guilty yesterday to a criminal misdemeanor charge imposed over a massive Salmonella outbreak linked to its peanut butter in 2006. The Department of Justice announced the agreement on December 13, 2016. The company was ordered to pay an $8 million fine and a $3.2 million penalty, the largest fine ever paid in a food safety case. A plea agreement was filed last year in federal district court in the Middle District of Georgia. Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands accepted the guilty plea and imposed the sentence and fines. The company admitted in the plea agreement that it introduced contaminated Peter Pan and one product code of WalMart's Great Value peanut butter into interstate … [Read more...]

Pritzker Hageman Wins $7.55 Million Verdict for Child with HUS E. coli

On November 22, 2016, noted food safety attorney Fred Pritzker and his team won a $7.55 million verdict for a child who contracted an E. coli infection and developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in 2013 after visiting Dehn's Pumpkins, a business in Dayton, Minnesota. A jury in Hennepin County, Minnesota returned the verdict in favor of the child, who suffered severe kidney damage. The supporting lawyers on this case were Brendan Flaherty and Lindsay Lien Rinholen. The 10 year old girl went to the farm with her parents on the weekend of October 12 - 13, 2013 and got sick a few days later. At least seven people were sickened in that particular E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. The Minnesota Department of Health linked the illnesses to cows that were in the animal attraction at the farm. At … [Read more...]

Owner of Oasis Cheese Sentenced to Prison

The owner of Oasis Brands, Inc., a Florida cheese company, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on November 15, 2016. Christian Rivas was sent to prison for distributing contaminated cheese that was associated with a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak in 2014 that sickened five people in four states. U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. sentenced Mr. Rivas with "the intent to defraud and mislead, delivered cheese processed and packed at the Oasis facility into interstate commerce that was “adulterated . . . in that it contained lysteria monocytogenes (“listeria”) a deleterious substance, which may render the food injurious to health." The outbreak investigation and whole genome sequencing of the Listeria monocytogenes isolated from the recalled Oasis quesito casero cheese found … [Read more...]

Harbor City Restaurant Closed by Indiana Court

The Harbor City Restaurant in Tippecanoe County, Indiana was closed by a court when the owner kept the restaurant open despite the health department's order to close. A county employee saw the owner, Peter Wang, loading food for delivery on July 7, 2016, two days after health inspectors closed the restaurant after an inspection July 5, 2016. That inspection revealed 21 critical food safety violations. Inspection reports for last year, which are available online, showed the restaurant has received repeated citations for critical violations, including cockroaches and maggots on the kitchen floor, blood and dry food on the shelf used to hang raw duck to drain after cleaning, and hazardous food maintained at too high a temperature. Other violations included a bucket with raw chicken … [Read more...]

FDA Updates Investigation of Roos Cheese Listeria Outbreak

The FDA has updated its investigation and criminal charges against Roos Foods Inc. in association with the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to the company's cheeses. On Friday, January 22, 2016, the Department of Justice filed criminal information in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, charging the company with "the distribution of adulterated cheese in interstate commerce." The company has signed a plea agreement in which it has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Roos and its principals, Ana A. Roos and Virginia Mejia, agreed to a proposed consent decree of permanent injunction. A multistate outbreak of listeriosis linked to Hispanic-style cheese products made and distributed by Roos Foods of Kenton, … [Read more...]

Wyoming’s Ag-Gag Law Dealt Serious Blow

Food Poisoning Bulletin has been reporting about so-called "ag gag" laws for years. These laws are intended to prevent whistleblowers from reporting on animal abuse at factory farms, and levy penalties against those who go undercover to film problems at these facilities. A federal judge, last week, noted "serious concerns and questions" about the constitutionality of Wyoming's data trespass laws in an order released about a lawsuit against that state and refused to strike claims against the law. These laws criminalize undercover reporting on farms and in slaughterhouses that reveal animal abuse, food safety violations, and violations of food worker health and safety laws. Center for Food Safety and other groups have sued Wyoming over this law, claiming that the laws punish communication … [Read more...]

Crab Products Seized for Possible Listeria Monocytogenes Bacteria

The United States Department of Justice seized about 5,000 cases of frozen, processed crab products manufactured by Rome Packing Company because the seafood may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The government alleges that Rome prepared, packed, and processed Jonah Crab products in a facility contaminated with the pathogenic bacteria. According to court documents, the FDA inspected Rome's facility on six different occasions and found that the facility's cooking process did not adequately control temperatures to prevent bacterial growth. Environmental swab samples collected from three areas of the facility allegedly tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. And poor sanitary practices and conditions in the facility may have caused cross-contamination … [Read more...]

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