(U.S. Department of Justice release — September 27, 2017) — A federal court in Illinois permanently enjoined a Metropolis, Illinois caviar supplier from distributing adulterated food, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
In a complaint filed on Sept. 20 at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States alleged that Mary Parrish, doing business as Fort Massac Fish Market, violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. According to the complaint, the defendant caused ready-to-eat caviar to become adulterated by being prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions and by failing to comply with seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point regulations, which are designed to mitigate food safety hazards associated with the processing of fish and fishery products.
“Consumers should be able to trust that their food is produced under safe and sanitary conditions,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Where food manufacturers prepare food using substandard practices, the Department of Justice will work aggressively with the FDA to enforce our nation’s food safety laws.”
The complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, alleged that two FDA inspections of Fort Massac in 2016 revealed poor sanitation practices, including failures to sanitize hands, utensils, and food surfaces; insect residue throughout the building; and a pet dog in the facility. According to the complaint, Parrish also failed to ensure the temperature of ready-to-eat caviar remained at a level low enough to control Clostridium botulinum growth and toxin formation, which can cause botulism. The complaint states that FDA warned Parrish of these violations in April 2016, but observed similar deficiencies during a December 2016 inspection.
“Consumers should be able to trust that the food they buy is safe,” said U.S. Attorney Donald S. Boyce for the Southern District of Illinois. “We will continue to work with the FDA to combat and deter conduct that leads to the distribution of contaminated food.”
“By violating food safety regulations, Fort Massac Fish Market put people at unnecessary risk for serious food poisoning,” said FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Melinda K. Plaisier. “The FDA took action to protect public health by requiring that the defendant cease operations until they can demonstrate that they can produce food that meets important safety requirements.”
The defendant agreed to be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction. As part of that settlement, Parrish stated that she no longer processes or distributes food. Under the terms of the consent decree as entered by the court, Parrish may not resume such activity before taking steps to ensure the safety of her food and receiving FDA authorization.
This matter was handled by Trial Attorney Jacqueline Blaesi-Freed of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Biersbach of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois, with the assistance of Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement Yen Hoang of the FDA’s Office of General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services.