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Post date: June 3 2004

Probe Expands In Sale Of Illegally Imported Dairy Products

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his office has entered into agreements with 14 additional retailers and two distributors of illegal foreign milk products. The agreements are expected to significantly reduce the availability of these potentially harmful products.

"The sale of foreign dairy products is a source of concern for two reasons," Spitzer said. "First, these 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. My office is committed to ensuring that New York consumers are not exposed to dairy products that are anything less than absolutely wholesome."

Last spring, Spitzer's office began investigating the sale of illegal foreign milk products in New York State. It was quickly discovered that many small grocery and specialty stores located across the state that sell ethnic foods were illegally selling milk, butter, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products imported from France, Russia, Poland, Israel and other nations. None of the stores had the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets permit required by state law to sell these products. The lack of a permit means the products had not been inspected for purity and safety by state officials. In addition, many items did not have expiration dates or consumer labels that list the contents in English, as required by state law.

Today's announcement brings the total number of retail stores that Spitzer has cited for selling illegal foreign milk products to 32 and the total number of distributors who have agreed to stop carrying these products to three.

The agreements with the retailers serve primarily to educate the stores on the law. Each store will pay a $100 fine and agree to discontinue stocking the illegal products. The objective is not to cause them economic hardship. Distributors, however, face more substantial fines because they should be aware of the legal requirements for importing dairy products. The two distributors that recently signed agreements to stop carrying illegal products are:

  • Mesada International Trading located in White Lake, New York. This company sold illegal foreign dairy products to retail stores in Brooklyn. It will pay a fine of $25,000.
  • B & B International Connections, Inc., located in Brooklyn, NY. This company sold illegal foreign milk products to retail stores in Brooklyn and in upstate New York. It will pay a fine of $5,000.

In an earlier enforcement action, East Coast Foods, Inc. of Brooklyn was fined $7,500 for distributing illegal imports to retail stores within the state.

Although Spitzer's office reports that the prevalence of retail stores selling illegal foreign milk products has decreased significantly since his investigation began, such products can still be found in geographic areas that serve ethnic populations, especially recent immigrants. A list of the fourteen retail stores signing agreements with Spitzer's office is attached.

The investigation was led by Assistant Attorney General Alan Berkowitz of the Suffolk Regional Office under the direction of Denis McElligott, with assistance from Senior Investigators Thomas LoFrese and Stephen Boyle.

RETAILERS
   
Victoria International
441 Kings Highway
Brooklyn, New York

Net Cost Market - 65
2339 65th Street
Brooklyn, New York 11204

   
Cracovia Deli
5503 13th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11219
Rossiya Enterprises, Inc.
3919 18th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11218
   
Exclusive Delicatessen, Inc.
411 Brighton Beach Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11235
Dari Dona, Inc.
88 Kings Highway
Brooklyn, New York
   
Gold Label International Foods
281 Brighton Beach Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11235
M & I International Food, Inc.
249 Brighton Beach Avenue
Brooklyn, New York
   
Letanya, Inc.
16 Avenue O
Brooklyn, New York 11204
M & B International Food
2165 Bath Avenue
Brooklyn, New York
   
Royal Seafood #2
8419 20th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11214
MPY International Food, Inc.
2010 Cropsey Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11214
   
Gintaras
6629 Bay Parkway
Brooklyn, New York 11204
Gastronome/Dnestrovsky
2215 65th Street
Brooklyn, New York