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Thursday, October 12, 2000

CORNYN CITES FOOD WHOLESALER FOR UNSAFE CONDITIONS

Agreement Ensures Protection of Foods from Contamination

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn has filed a final judgment and agreed permanent injunction against Southern Star Distributors near Dallas. The agreement resolves a lawsuit filed last January and stems from warehouse conditions that potentially could contaminate food products.

The judgment includes a permanent injunction against Southern Star and requires the payment of $175,000 in civil penalties, costs of inspections, attorneys fees and court costs to the state. This settlement was filed in Collin County district court. The permanent injunction prohibits Southern Star from operating in unsanitary conditions and specifically requires the company to:

  • Protect product from contamination while being stored and contained on the premises;
  • Have an approved seafood safety plan for shellfish to assure product safety;
  • Keep hand-washing and toilet facilities in good repair with running hot water at all times; and
  • Maintain written sanitation monitoring records.

Southern Star operates a new multiple foods warehouse in Plano, although they were located in Richardson until mid-1999, where the majority of the violations were documented. The state sued Southern Star in January 2000, alleging that the company failed to correct violations noted by the Texas Department of Health (TDH) and failed to protect food products from contamination and adulteration in violation of the Texas Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Violations documented by the TDH at that time included:

  • Rodent droppings on pallets of canned products and along walls;
  • The potential for cross-contamination of foods (packaged raw broccoli stacked on a box containing reddish liquid, which was lying on a box of raw chicken on ice);
  • Live rodents and insects and generally unsanitary conditions.

The TDH, which referred this case to the Attorney General, has inspected Southern Star to monitor the corrective actions taken by this company. Today's settlement was secured after a determination by TDH that appropriate repairs were made and unsanitary violations corrected. This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Joyce Wein Iliya, in the Dallas office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.

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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050
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