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Post date: June 5 2003

Probe Finds Widespread Sale Of Illegal Foreign Dairy Products

Attorney General Spitzer said today that his office has reached agreements with 18 retailers and a distributor to halt the sale of illegal foreign dairy products in New York.

The agreements follow a four-month investigation by Spitzer's office that found many small retailers were illegally selling milk, butter, cheese and yogurt imported from France, Russia, Poland, Israel and other nations. Some of these products were not inspected by appropriate officials and regulators. Others lacked required consumer labels in English noting contents and expiration dates.

"The influx of foreign dairy products is a source of concern for two reasons," Spitzer said. "First, the products undercut New York dairy farmers. Second, the foreign producers may not have undergone the required inspections and, as a result, their products may pose a health hazard to consumers."

Spitzer was first alerted to the problem by a domestic milk producer who complained that an increasing amount of foreign dairy products were being sold at small retail stores in the New York City area.

Spitzer's staff investigated and found that many ethnic food stores, import stores and other small retailers across the state were selling illegal products. Most of the stores were selling dairy products that lacked proper import permits. Under New York State law, it is illegal to import and sell any milk or non-storable milk items without a permit from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The New York Farm Bureau praised the enforcement action. Farm Bureau Director of Public Policy Patrick Hooker said: "Dairy producers in New York State must pass rigorous inspections and incur substantial costs to ensure the quality and purity of their products. Foreign producers often face no such requirements, and, as a result, their products may be cheaper, but definitely not better for consumers."

Under the agreements with Spitzer's office, the retailers have agreed to halt sales and pay statutory fines. (A list of retailers and the distributor that have settled with the state is attached.)

Spitzer said that the investigation is ongoing and that his office is engaged in talks with additional retailers and distributors to halt improper sales.

The investigation was led by Assistant Attorney General Alan Berkowitz with the assistance of Assistant Attorneys General Jim Morrissey, Carlos Rodriquez, Judith Malkin and Joel Marmelstein and Senior Investigators Tom LoFrese and Stephen Boyle.



ILLEGAL DAIRY PRODUCT IMPORTS


DISTRIBUTOR
East Coast Foods Inc.723 West 15th St., Brooklyn$7,500 fine
 
RETAILERS
Sabra Market2279 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn$500 fine
Russian Village2223 86th St., Brooklyn$300 fine
Kosher Grocery7012 Ave. U, Brooklyn$500 fine
Tavlin Market2826 Merrick Road, Bellmore$500 fine
Kissena Farms72-15 Kissena Blvd., Flushing$500 fine
Kosher Discount Supermarket1507 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn$500 fine
Amalya Grocery68-24 Main St., Flushing$500 fine
Sweet Delight of Brooklyn1067 Brighton Beach Ave., Brooklyn$500 fine
Gastronome Odessa1117 Brighton Beach Ave., Brooklyn$500 fine
Elat Market470 Ave. P, Brooklyn$100 fine
Sweets of the Word1041 Culver Rd., Rochester$250 fine
Euro Deli & Gifts4166 Union Rd., Buffalo$250 fine
European Delights2142 West Genesee St., Syracuse$250 fine
Pulaski Meat Market1201 Lenox Ave., Utica$500 fine
Gourment Plaza1007 Brighton Beach Ave., Brooklyn$100 fine
Alla's International Food2223 Bath Ave., Brooklyn$100 fine
Moisha's Discount Supermarket325 Avenue M, Brooklyn$100 fine
Avior Inc.6181 Strickland Ave., Brooklyn$100 fine