April 1 2005
MIAM — A smoked fish company that sends its products across the country has been accused by the United States of violating health codes and distributing fish contaminated with the bacteria listeria.
SeaSPECIALITIES Inc., also known as Florida Smoked Fish Co., has been in business since the 1920s. It was sued Wednesday after years of warnings that their processing methods were unsanitary and the fish were sometimes contaminated, the government said.
Repeated phone calls to company management and attorneys were not immediately returned.
The company was founded in Brooklyn in the ’20s and moved to Miami in the 1950s. It is under fourth-generation family management.
According to the lawsuit, the company failed to implement an adequate way to ensure that food safety hazards were in place to prevent contaminated food from reaching the consumer.
Government attorneys claim the company was repeatedly warned about their processing methods since 1998. The last inspection was in January.
Federal inspectors found fish that tested positive for the bacteria listeria monocytogenes. The disease, which can sometimes be fatal, primarily affects pregnant women, newborns and adults with weak immune systems.
Last month all sales were ordered halted and all fish held and tested. Tests showed that 25 percent of the fish tested positive for listeria. Smoked fish, distributed under various brand names, was also recalled, the government said.
The company buys smoked fish from Massachusetts and raw fish from Chile, Norway, Denmark and Canada.s
U.S. District Court Judge James Lawrence King set an April 26 hearing over whether to issue a preliminary injunction to stop the distribution of fish.