Multiple Health Code Violations Cited at California Fish Processing Facility

In continuing with their efforts to protect consumers from dangerous products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was called into action today regarding the distribution hazardous foods. The FDA responded to a complaint filed by the Department of Justice that acknowledge the existence of a fish products processing and distribution facility that may put consumers at risk of developing foodborne illnesses. Subsequently, the FDA has filed for a permanent injunction against Fujino Enterprises Inc., doing business as Blue Ocean Smokehouse, of Half Moon Bay, California because of the risk of botulism and other food hazards.

Blue Ocean is a large contributer to the seafood industry and is known for processing fresh and smoked fish and fish products. They are well known for their salmon, cod, halibut, Wild King Salmon Candy (a honey-glazed, cold-smoked salmon), hot-smoked tuna, sturgeon and hot-smoked fish cream cheese spreads. While they do not catch or procure their own fish, Blue Ocean purchases fish in order to process it. Their main suppliers come from outside of California, including salmon from Washington state and sturgeon from Oregon.

Unfortunately, investigators associated with the Department of Justice were alerted to a number of violations at Blue Ocean’s processing facility. Accordingly, their findings were included in a complaint issued to the FDA. The complaint alleges that the company’s fish and fish products are adulterated, because they are processed under conditions that do not comply with the agency’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations. HACCP is a science-based system of preventive controls for food safety that is used by commercial seafood processors to identify potential food safety hazards and take steps to keep them from occurring.

The complaint also alleges that Blue Ocean’s fish are adulterated because the conditions under which they are prepared, packed, and held fail to conform to the Current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements for food established to ensure that food is processed in a safe and sanitary manner.

Furthermore, the complaint acknowledges a particularly concerning development. Their vacuum-packaged hot and cold smoked fish products may pose a risk for the development of Clostridium botulinum toxin that can cause botulism. Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness. All forms of this condition may lead to paralysis, which typically starts with the muscles of the face and then spreads towards the limbs. More severe forms may witness the paralysis extend into the breathing muscles and cause respiratory failure. In light of this life-threatening complication, all suspected cases of botulism are treated as medical emergencies, and public health officials are usually involved to prevent further cases from the same source.

Upon conducting investigations of Blue Ocean facilities, investigators discovered traces of Listeria monocytogenes on food-contact and non-food-contact surfaces in the food processing areas.

The company’s violations led to its voluntary destruction of almost 1,500 pounds of hot- and cold-smoked fish in October 2011, under the supervision of the FDA and the California Department of Public Health. If granted, the permanent injunction against Blue Ocean would stop the company from processing and distributing fish and fish products.

Contributing to the already ambiguous situation, however, are previous warnings issued by the FDA to Blue Ocean for violating similar codes back in 2010. According to the warning letter, officials found multiple violations of the HACCP and the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulation for foods.

Do I Have a Blue Ocean Lawsuit?

The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in Blue Ocean lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one has been injured by contaminated food from the Blue Ocean processing facility, you may be entitled to financial compensation. For a free case review, please click the link below or call toll free 24 hrs/day 1-(949) 557-5800.