USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), in conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, announce the indictment of a Puerto Rican businessman for violations of the Federal Meat and Poultry Inspection Acts.
On April 6, a grand jury convened by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico handed down an indictment against Filiberto Berrios, 52, of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, on four counts of adulteration, transport, distribution and sale of adulterated meat and poultry products and issued a warrant for his arrest.
FSIS investigators, along with members of the Puerto Rico Fugitive Task Force of the U.S. Marshals Service served the warrant and conducted the arrest on April 12 at Berrios’ place of business in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. FSIS investigators developed the case while conducting normal surveillance and review operations at cold storage facilities in Puerto Rico.
The federal charges state that on or about June 25, 2009, Berrios purchased and transported approximately 45,582 pounds of spoiled and misbranded meat and poultry food products. Berrios reportedly purchased the meat and poultry products for approximately 10 cents per pound.
Berrios, a salvage operator, would later transport the meat and poultry products to an open air vacant lot in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, the indictment reads. Without the benefit of training, experience in food safety or a sanitary permit, and without subjecting the salvaged products to federal inspection, he then sorted and repacked the products to enhance their appearance.
Berrios transported the products to a food warehouse in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he held the products for sale to restaurants, retail stores, processors and local street vendors. Meat seized from Berrios’ operation underwent lab analysis and was found to be unfit for human consumption and then destroyed.
The Puerto Rico Department of Health assisted in the case by embargoing the adulterated food products. It is not known at this time whether the consumption of any of the products led to illness.
If convicted, Berrios faces possible jail time and/or fines. He is presently free on bail.
The Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act are intended to ensure that meat and poultry products are slaughtered and processed under sanitary conditions resulting in clean, wholesome, unadulterated and properly labeled products. The requirements also apply to imported meat and poultry products, which must be inspected under equivalent foreign standards.