U.S. District Court Judge Melinda Harmon entered an order of permanent injunction against Chung’s Products LP, a Houston-based producer of egg rolls and other foods, Charlie A. Kujawa, Chung’s president of operations, and Gregory S. Birdsell, Chung’s former director of quality assurance, the Justice Department announced today.
The permanent injunction was issued by the district court along with the court’s opinion and order granting the United States’ motion for summary judgment against the defendants for violating the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Chung’s products are sold in grocery stores and large retail stores nationwide.
As set forth in the complaint filed by the United States on March 8, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted inspections from 2005 through 2009 at Chung’s facility located in Houston. According to the complaint, the defendants, among other things, violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by preparing, packing and holding shrimp egg rolls under insanitary conditions, whereby they may have become contaminated with filth and rendered injurious to health.
In a decision entered on April 4, 2013, Judge Harmon found that the defendants had a long history of violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, including producing food under insanitary conditions and failing to control for the risks of Clostridium Botulinum, “the most potent toxin known to man,” in their seafood products and a potentially deadly strain of listeria in their manufacturing environment. The court also noted defendants’ numerous refusals to cooperate with the FDA. Based on the evidence before it, the Court concluded there is a reasonable possibility that Chung’s food products were both contaminated with filth and unsafe and injurious to health. The court further found that the defendants’ challenges to FDA testing methods were “frivolous” and “demonstrated [a] wanton disregard of a potential food safety hazard in [Chung’s] products.”
“We will continue to take strong action against those who would risk the safety of the American food supply by manufacturing and storing products under insanitary conditions or flouting important food safety rules,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Court’s ruling ensures that these defendants will take appropriate steps to ensure that consumers who purchase their foods will receive products that are prepared, packaged and held under sanitary conditions as required by law.”
Pursuant to the injunction issued by the Court, defendants are enjoined from receiving, processing, preparing, packing, holding and distributing food from Chung’s Houston-based facility or any other facility until defendants take the remedial action required by the Court’s order.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Delery thanked the FDA for referring this matter to the Department of Justice. David Sullivan, Trial Attorney at the Consumer Protection Branch of the Justice Department, in conjunction with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose Vela Jr. in the Southern District of Texas and Sonia Nath, Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement at FDA’s Office of the Chief Counsel, brought this case on behalf of the United States.
Update, April 10, 2013
On April 9, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Melinda Harmon modified a paragraph of the injunction issued on April 4, 2013. The modification enjoins defendants from receiving, processing, preparing, packing, holding and distributing any fish or fishery products from Chung’s Houston-based facility or any other facility until defendants take the remedial action required by the court’s order.