Chinese food supplier shipping goods despite being targeted for unsanitary warehouses

Friday, July 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- A Chinese food supplier has continued shipping orders to grocers and restaurants in Texas and four other states, despite being targeted by inspectors for unsanitary conditions at its warehouses.

Texas Attorney General John Cornyn filed a lawsuit agains tDallas-based Formosa Foods Wednesday, alleging the Dallas-based company failed three times to correct numerous health code violations in its warehouses. The alleged violations include rodent droppings in the warehouses, insects in cases of noodles, leaking food products and improper monitoring of temperature controls in shellfish storage. But despite the pending case, the company continues to ship meat, seafood, produce, canned goods and other items to Chinese restaurants and grocery stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in Friday's editions.

Formosa officials did not return a telephone call Friday for comment. The company has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit and Cornyn has yet to file an injunction to prevent the company from shipping the potentially tainted food. "Temporary restraining orders are usually reserved for very unusual cases," said Andrea Horton, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.

Horton said Cornyn would push for a permanent injunction to shutdown the company if they do not reply to the lawsuit within the 20-day deadline. State health officials say there have been no reports of illnesses stemming from one of the most severe cases of unsanitary conditions in the state they have seen. In three inspections between September 1999 and March 2000,health officials found 126 violations of health standards, the lawsuit states. The reports say inspectors found rat droppings in sacks of sugar, "a green mold-like substance" on meat and live beetle-like insects in 133 cases of noodles.

Formosa's troubles began in 1997 after an inspection turned up similar problems. The company agreed to pay $20,000 and promised to hire personnel to keep its warehouses more clean.