U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors began recording the failure to properly maintain the Kwong Tung Foods facility at 1840 East 38th Street in Minneapolis in 2010.
Pipes were observed draining directly onto the floor. During 2011, 2012, and 2014 inspections, FDA observed dripping into food preparation areas and/or a food production room.
Those problems dating back to 2009, which were explained in Form FDA 483 observation reports after inspections and in warning letters, went unaddressed by Kwong Tung Foods.
But last week, a problem that dragged on for almost eight years came to end in 48 hours when the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Kwong Tung Foods Inc.
The consent decree is being enforced against Kwong Tung Foods doing business as Canton Foods; the firm’s president and owner, Vieta C. Wang; and vice president, Juney H. Wang, to prevent the distribution of adulterated noodles and sprouts.
Department of Justice attorneys filed a complaint on July 14, in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota at FDA’s request. The complaint alleged that Kwong Tung Foods violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by causing noodles and sprouts to be adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed and/or held under insanitary conditions whereby the food may have become contaminated with filth or have been rendered injurious to health.
According to the complaint, the insanitary conditions included failure to exclude pests and rodents from the facility, failure to maintain equipment and failure to ensure adequate employee sanitation.
“Kwong Tung Foods was repeatedly warned about the insanitary conditions at its Minneapolis food facility,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively to protect consumers from adulterated food and enforce our nation’s food safety laws.”
In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants agreed to be bound by a permanent injunction. As part of the settlement, the defendants represented that they have ceased receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding, or distributing any type of food at or from any location. Under the permanent injunction, if the defendants seek to resume such activity, they must take specific steps to improve the firm’s manufacturing practices, and then receive written approval from FDA.
According to the complaint, in October 2015, FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility, located at 1840 E. 38th Street in Minneapolis, and observed numerous insanitary practices, including the defendants’ failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination and maintain buildings in good repair.
Specifically, according to the complaint, FDA observed evidence of live and dead pests and rodents in production rooms, a black mold-like substance and debris on production equipment, inadequate employee sanitation practices, and potential cross-contamination with major allergens. In addition, FDA observed condensate dripping onto finished bean sprouts, according to the complaint.
FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility twice in 2014. As alleged in the complaint, FDA also observed failures to exclude pests from the facility and to adequately maintain equipment and employee sanitation practices.
Under federal law, food processors are required to comply with current good manufacturing practices provided by FDA regulation. The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the law by causing food to become adulterated while it was held for sale after shipment of one or more of its components in interstate commerce.
The government is represented by Trial Attorney Alistair Reader of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bahram Samie of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. They were assisted by Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement Jennifer Kang of the Food and Drug Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services.
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