The United States Obtains Broad Injunctive Relief Against Brooklyn-based International Beef and Veal Exporter and Others
Court-Approved Consent Decree Resolves U.S. Civil Claims
Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), today announced court approval of a Consent Judgment and Decree between the United States and Atlantic Veal & Lamb LLC (Atlantic Veal), a Brooklyn-based fabricator and exporter of beef and beef products, and Atlantic Veal’s suppliers, Golden Veal Corp. (Golden Veal), and Ohio Farms Packing Co., LLC (Ohio Farms). The consent decree, approved by United States District Judge John Gleeson, provides for permanent injunctive relief and significant escalating monetary penalties designed to ensure that Atlantic Veal, Golden Veal, and Ohio Farms (the defendants) comply with federal law and trade requirements concerning beef exported internationally.
The consent decree resolves a civil action filed by the United States in March 2011 against the defendants arising out of the January 2006 shipment of U.S. veal to Japan that violated U.S. trade requirements for shipments to Japan. Specifically, Japanese government officials discovered that this shipment of veal, slaughtered by Golden Veal and shipped by Atlantic Veal, contained vertebral column, or spinal cord bone and tissue fragments, as well as other misbranded product, and therefore was ineligible for shipment to Japan. As a result, Japan closed its borders to all U.S. beef products for six months. The government’s civil complaint alleged that as a result of Japan’s ban on U.S. beef products, the U.S. livestock, meat, and beef industries suffered over $500 million in losses. Additionally, the USDA removed Atlantic Veal and Golden Veal from its list of eligible suppliers and exporters to Japan, thereby prohibiting the two companies from shipping meat to Japan for the past five years.
The consent decree permanently enjoins defendants from any future violations of the Federal Meat Inspection Act’s misbranding and adulteration provisions, the USDA’s meat grading and certification requirements, and the USDA Audit, Review and Compliance Branch’s Export Verification requirements. The consent decree also requires the defendants to permanently provide additional access, record-keeping, and reporting in order to ensure ongoing compliance, and entitles the United States to substantial and escalating monetary relief in the event of future violations for the next three years – $10,000 for the first violation, $25,000 for the second, and $50,000 for each violation thereafter. Additionally, in the event of future violations, the consent decree authorizes the USDA to halt any future exports, perform onsite inspections, and require onsite verification of sufficient corrective actions.
“The provisions of the consent decree and the previous removal of the defendants from USDA’s list of eligible suppliers demonstrate that we are committed to enforcing federal law governing the international export of meat and meat products,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch thanked the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service and Office of the Inspector General for their investigative work, as well as the USDA’s Office of the General Counsel and Agricultural Marketing Service for their assistance in the case.
“The USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is dedicated to protecting the public health and welfare of consumers both at home and abroad by ensuring that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, and accurately labeled,” said Dr. Hagen. “This includes activities by FSIS and other USDA agencies to help ensure that meat and other products are eligible for importation into Japan and other countries.”
The defendants have neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the United States’ civil complaint.
The United States’ case was litigated by Assistant United States Attorney John Vagelatos.
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