United States Obtains Consent Decree Against Apex Building Company For Violating Lead Paint Safety Regulations
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Paul Kiecker, the Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA-FSIS”), announced that the United States has sued wholesale meat and poultry distributer YA FENG TRADING, INC., its owner and president LINMIN YANG, and its warehouse manager KONG PING NI (collectively, the “Defendants”) for storing more than 40,000 pounds of meat and poultry products in a rodent-infested warehouse and for other conduct violating the Federal Meat Inspection Act (“FMIA”) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (“PPIA”). The U.S. has simultaneously entered into a Consent Decree with the Defendants, approved by the District Court, which bars YA FENG and YANG from further work under the FMIA and PPIA for a period of three years, requires all the Defendants to comply with the FMIA and the PPIA in any covered work, and imposes significant civil penalties for any future violations. YA FENG ceased operating in December 2022 because of the risk of enforcement action relating to violations at issue in this case.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Federal law requires food distributers and retailers to ensure that their products are stored in sanitary, uncontaminated conditions. As this lawsuit illustrates, this Office has no tolerance for actors who ignore their legal obligations at the expense of public health.”
USDA-FSIS Administrator Paul Kiecker said: “Our inspection personnel and investigators are on the job daily, verifying that establishments are complying with food safety regulations. FSIS remains committed to public health and we will take swift action to protect American consumers.”
The FMIA and the PPIA protect public health by ensuring the nation’s commercial supply of meat and poultry is sanitary, safe, wholesome, and accurately labeled and packaged. These requirements allow consumers to have confidence in the safety of their meat and poultry products and permit public health officials to trace problems to their source.
According to the Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court:
The Defendants violated the FMIA and the PPIA by storing their meat and poultry products in a warehouse that was overrun with rodents. In April 2022, USDA-FSIS investigators visited the YA FENG warehouse and observed multiple rodents scurrying into a walk-in cooler. One rodent ran out of the cooler and up the leg of a USDA-FSIS investigator. Chew marks were observed on meat and poultry products, and droppings were observed throughout the warehouse, including on the lids of products. Rodent nesting materials and a dead mouse were found in a walk-in freezer.
The Defendants also violated the FMIA and the PPIA repeatedly between December 2018 and April 2022 by offering for sale hundreds of pounds of misbranded meat and poultry products and by failing to maintain required records.
In the Consent Decree, the Defendants admit and accept responsibility for, among other things, the following:
In the Consent Decree, the Defendants expressly admit and accept responsibility for having “repeatedly violated the FMIA and PPIA.”
The Consent Decree bars YA FENG and YANG from engaging in activity subject to the FMIA or PPIA for three years. All Defendants must complete mandatory training and education in the FMIA and the PPIA before returning to this line of work while the Consent Decree remains in effect. They are also prohibited from storing meat and poultry products in unsanitary conditions, selling or transporting any uninspected meat and poultry products that are required to be inspected and passed by the USDA, selling any mislabeled meat and poultry products, failing to keep records regarding meat and poultry product business transactions, and engaging in any other conduct that would violate the FMIA or the PPIA. The Defendants are subject to additional sanctions, including civil monetary penalties and other relief, if they violate the provisions of the Consent Decree.
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Mr. Williams thanked the USDA-FSIS for its efforts on this matter.
This case is being handled by the Environmental Protection Unit of the Office’s Civil Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Osmond is in charge of the case.