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Tofu Maker Closed for 2 Years for Filthy Plant

Times Staff Writer

K. Y. Foods, a major West Coast producer and supplier of tofu and other Asian-style fare, on Monday was banned from operating for two years and ordered to pay more than $20,000 in fines and other penalties as a result of grossly unsanitary conditions at its Los Angeles plant.

In exchange for a no-contest plea, charges against two K. Y. executives--General Manager Taek Kwan Oh, 25, of Monterey Park, and President Kyu Yong Kim, 53, of Alhambra--were dropped by the Los Angeles city attorney’s office.

In imposing sentence, Los Angeles Municipal Court Commissioner Joseph Spada ordered the firm to pay $5,375 in fines and penalties, $8,000 to reimburse the government’s investigative costs and $7,000 as a charitable contribution to a nonprofit organization to be selected later by the city attorney’s office. Spada also placed the company on two years’ informal probation, during which time it is banned from reopening.

Last August, the city attorney’s office filed criminal charges against the company and two of its officers for “grossly filthy conditions” at the firm’s plant, including high levels of fecal coliform, a bacterium that can cause severe food poisoning.

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The plant, at 4607 S. Main St., had been the subject of two previous criminal prosecutions, in 1979 and 1982, when it was owned by D. Y. Imports, which was acquired in July, 1987, by K. Y. Foods.

K. Y. products were sold in Los Angeles, San Francisco and in parts of Colorado and Nevada under the brand names of C R Brand, D Y Brand and K Y Foods, according to Deputy City Atty. Ruth Kwan, the prosecutor. Among the products were rice dumplings, vinegar, ground chili pepper, salted shrimp and roasted sesame seeds.

In all, K. Y. Foods pleaded no contest to 20 violations of the California Health and Safety Code.

Among the conditions found at the plant, which was closed shortly after the charges were filed in August, was widespread vermin infestation--including extensive rodent droppings in areas where raw products were stored and foodstuffs were manufactured, Kwan said.

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Inspectors had also found beetles and moths in flour and sesame seeds as well as decaying mice carcasses in the warehouse. Other contamination involved rusty equipment with peeling paint that was used to process the foods. In addition, a floor drain was backed up in the tofu processing area, Kwan said.

In 1979, the D. Y. Imports plant pleaded no contest to five counts of health violations and paid a $3,150 fine. In 1982, it pleaded no contest to another six health code violations and paid a $3,400 fine. Similar conditions in 1985 prompted health officials to issue a recall of tofu made at the plant.


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