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Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Carmen Rottenberg, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (“USDA”) Food Safety and Inspection Service (“FSIS”), announced today the entry of a Consent Decree against defendants GEORGE MEAT MARKET, INC. (“GEORGE MEAT MARKET”), KWOK SIN NG, president of GEORGE MEAT MARKET, and ALICE YAN FUNG NG, vice president of GEORGE MEAT MARKET (collectively, “the defendants”), along with settling parties BEN MEAT MARKET, INC. (“BEN MEAT MARKET”), and its incorporator, BENSON NG, for violations of the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act and related regulations at their Manhattan meat market.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated: “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it has to be USDA-inspected like a duck. By disregarding regulations designed to ensure that food remains wholesome and unadulterated on its way to being consumed, the owners and operators of George Meat Market and Ben Meat Market put people at risk. Today’s consent decree ensures that they will comply with the law and consumers can have confidence in the safety of the food they buy.”
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Carmen Rottenberg said: “The defendants repeatedly violated food safety laws and put consumers at risk for foodborne illnesses. The United States enjoys the safest food supply in the world and we will hold the individuals accountable for their actions.”
According to the Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court:
The Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) protects the public health by imposing a set of inspections, labeling, and packaging requirements for poultry. These inspection, labeling, and packaging requirements allow consumers to have confidence in the safety of their poultry products and permit public health officials to trace problems to their source.
Since 2009, the defendants repeatedly violated federal law by selling uninspected and misbranded roast ducks from their facility at 288 Grand Street, New York, New York – then operating under the name GEORGE MEAT MARKET – to wholesalers and retailers in New York City. Although USDA inspectors repeatedly found the defendants in violation, issuing multiple notices of warning and a notice of alleged violation between 2009 and 2017, the defendants continued to violate the law.
In July 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office notified the defendants of the government’s intent to file suit to enjoin them from continuing to violate the PPIA. In response, the defendants claimed that GEORGE MEAT MARKET would cease operations at the end of that month. However, a USDA inspector visited the market at the end of July 2018 and found no indication that the market was closing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office then filed this suit.
In the Consent Decree entered today, the defendants and settling parties admit, acknowledge, and accept responsibility for the following:
Pursuant to the Consent Decree, GEORGE MEAT MARKET, KWOK SIN NG, ALICE YAN FUNG NG, BEN MEAT MARKET, and BENSON NG are enjoined from (1) selling or transporting any poultry products required to be inspected and passed by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service that have not been inspected and passed by USDA inspectors; (2) preparing or processing poultry and poultry products in unsanitary conditions; (3) not keeping records that fully disclose transactions involving poultry products; and (4) engaging in any other conduct that would violate the PPIA and related regulations. The settling parties have also agreed to complete mandatory training in relevant federal law and regulations and agreed to certain conditions on transferring ownership of the meat market. The settling parties are subject to additional actions, including civil monetary penalties, termination of exempt status, contempt sanctions, and other relief, if they violate the provisions of the Consent Decree.
Mr. Berman thanked the USDA for its assistance leading to the Complaint.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Environmental Protection Unit, as part of its Food Safety Initiative. Assistant United States Attorney Samuel Dolinger is in charge of the case.