District Court Issues Order to Prevent California Individual From Distributing Adulterated Fish or Fishery Products

A federal court enjoined Michel G. Blanchet of Los Angeles, California, from preparing, processing, and distributing adulterated fish or fishery products without first taking required remedial action, the Department of Justice announced today.

The injunction ordered by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California requires Blanchet to implement various consumer safety measures before resuming the preparation, processing or distribution of fish or fishery products.  The injunction stems from a complaint the Department filed on Oct. 3, 2017, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Blanchet was the owner and President of a business in Los Angeles, California, that processed and distributed fish or fishery products, including salmon, trout, and sturgeon.

Blanchet agreed to settle the litigation and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction.  As part of the settlement, Blanchet represented that he is not engaged in receiving, preparing, processing, holding or distributing fish or fishery products.  Under the permanent injunction, if Blanchet intends to resume such activity, he must notify FDA in writing in advance, comply with specific remedial measures set forth in the injunction, and allow his facility to be subject to FDA inspection.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that processors and distributors of seafood products comply with laws designed to protect consumers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice continues to work with the FDA to ensure that consumers are protected from potentially unsafe food.”

According to the complaint, FDA inspected Blanchet’s business on numerous occasions, including two times in 2016.  The complaint alleged that Blanchet failed to comply with federal regulations by failing to adequately control the risk of Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) and Clostridium botulinum (C bot.)toxin formation in vacuum-packed fish or fishery products.  The regulations require every fish and fishery product processor to conduct, or have conducted for it, a hazard analysis to determine whether there are food safety hazards that are reasonably likely to occur during the processing of each kind of fish or fishery product that it processes.

According to the complaint, FDA’s analysis of environmental samples collected during its January-February 2016 inspection revealed the presence of L. mono contamination in multiple locations throughout Blanchet’s business.  The complaint also alleged that FDA’s analysis of environmental samples collected during its subsequent inspection in July-August 2016 also revealed the presence of L. monocontamination in multiple locations throughout the business.

The government is represented by Trial Attorney Monica Groat of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, with the assistance of Associate General Counsel for Enforcement Roselle Oberstein of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of General Counsel’s Food and Drug Division.

Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.

Topic(s): Consumer Protection

Component(s): Civil Division

Press Release Number: 18-702Updated May 30, 2018

Central District of California DOJ / 18-702 / May 30, 2018

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