botulism(2).jpgOn Tuesday, May 31, 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, announced that it is seeking a permanent injunction against BCS African Wholesale Food Supply LLC (BCS African Wholesale) of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and its principal officers because the company’s products present food safety hazards to its customers.

Specifically at issue, as Dan Flynn of Food Safety News reports, is the company’s continued sale and distribution of uneviscerated bony fish. According to FDA officials, uneviscerated salt-cured, dried, or smoked fish over 5 inches is considered to be adulterated because it could contain Clostridium botulinum toxin – the toxin that can cause botulism and cannot be removed by cooking or freezing.

FDA officials said it issued the company a warning letter on July 20, 2010 after the agency and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture inspected the facility. However, despite this action, Dara A. Corrigan, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, stated, “This company has ignored warnings by FDA and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture by continuing to sell seafood that puts the consumer’s health at risk.” Corrigan added that by seeking this injunction, “FDA is demonstrating its commitment to protecting the public health from the dangers of adulterated and misbranded food products.”

In addition, FDA alleges in its complaint that BCS African Wholesale products have been held under unsanitary conditions in violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and that the company has failed to comply with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations.

If granted, the injunction would force the company to stop importing, processing, and selling its seafood products.