Ken Paxton

Monday, September 10, 2007

Attorney General Abbott Files Enforcement Action Against Houston Food Warehouse for Unsanitary Conditions

HOUSTON -- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has brought another enforcement action against a Houston food manufacturer with a history of contaminated warehouse conditions. Dishaka Gourmet Imports was charged with failing to remedy unsanitary conditions that could potentially affect the health of consumers.

Inspections by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) revealed that Kawal Oberoi, who operates Dishaka Gourmet Imports at 11306 S. Sam Houston Parkway, has failed to comply with health and hygiene requirements at his business. The unacceptable conditions violate a 2004 agreed order that requires Oberoi to fully comply with state food packaging, purity and labeling laws. The enforcement action alleges that despite repeated inspections by the DSHS, Dishaka has failed to remedy numerous violations, including rodent and insect infestations, unclean premises and adulterated food products.

Rodent-infested food products are a threat to the health and safety of all Texans, said Attorney General Abbott. Although he repeatedly failed inspections by state authorities, the subject of this enforcement action has literally failed to clean up his act. Texans must be able to count on sanitary food products from suppliers who fully comply with the law.

Dishaka Gourmet Imports distributes a wide variety of South Asian, Middle Eastern and British foods, importing ingredients from various countries such as flour, rice, beans, nuts, dried fruits, grains and spices. The company repackages these goods at its warehouse and resells them to ethnic restaurants and grocers in major cities across the United States.

Despite the 2004 agreed permanent injunction, which Oberoi endorsed, and some improvements at the facility, subsequent inspections by DSHS officers have revealed additional food contaminations and human health risks. These include:
Rodent droppings on cases of snack foods and evidence of severe rodent infestation elsewhere, including dead animals;
Bags of spices and flour infested with small beetles and packages of dried dates filled with dead moths;
Live larva infestations in containers of raisins;
Heavily molded bags of vegetables, such as red chili peppers;
Several cases of spices stored years beyond the packer’s expiration date;
No effective product rotation program or segregation of certain foods to ensure purity.

The Attorney General’s enforcement action requests court-ordered penalties of up to $25,000 per day per violation of the Texas Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. The Attorney General also seeks civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.