U.S. Govt. sues Phila. food warehouse for failing to correct 'filthy' conditions

By Jon Campisi | May 30, 2013

The federal government has filed a civil suit against a Philadelphia food warehouse over

allegations that the defendant has committed violations of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act in keeping food in “filthy conditions.”

The lawsuit, announced this week by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, seeks to stop New Rich City Trading Corporation, its president and owner, Xiaoping Sun, and the company’s manager, Si Yan Chuen, from selling food that is held in the allegedly deplorable conditions at the warehouse, which is located on the 2600 block of North American Street in Philadelphia.

The civil action alleges that inspections of the property by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have uncovered that food being housed at the defendant’s business exists in unsanitary conditions, and that the food may have become contaminated with “filth,” which the government says takes the form of animal waste from creatures such as rodents, birds, cats and dogs that have been discovered living onsite.

The complaint details four site visits that the FDA has made to the food warehouse between the spring of 2011 and this past winter.

“Defendants have a history of operating the facility under insanitary conditions, despite numerous warnings by the United States Food and Drug Administration,” the complaint reads.

The government claims that the defendants have failed to take corrective measures to protect against food contamination despite the various warnings to do so by FDA inspectors.

A letter sent to the defendants by the FDA last summer warned of potential legal action that could be taken by the government should the defendants continue to ignore health inspectors’ instructions to clean the place up.

“Despite FDA’s efforts and warning, Defendants have consistently failed to hold food in compliance with the [Food Drug and Cosmetic] Act and its implementing regulations,” reads the lawsuit, which was filed at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia May 29.

Based on the history of the documented violations, the government believes the defendants will continue to flout the law unless restrained by a court order, the suit states.

In a statement issued by his office, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger called it “unacceptable” for a food distributor to expose food fit for human consumption to be tainted by animal waste and other filth.

“The Department of Justice is committed to taking action against those who do not maintain and handle food in a clean environment,” Memeger stated.

The federal government is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent the defendants from further adulterating food, and to prevent them from continuing to receive, hold and distribute food unless and until the operation is brought into compliance with federal law.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-02945-LDD. 

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