Advertisement

Federal authorities accuse an L.A. food processor of distributing potentially contaminated fish

Michel Blanchet with a salmon slicer at Michel Cordon Bleu in March 2010.
Michel Blanchet with a salmon slicer at Michel Cordon Bleu in March 2010.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Federal authorities have filed a lawsuit alleging that seafood distributed by a Los Angeles processing firm was prepared under conditions that may have contaminated it with dangerous bacteria.

The civil complaint alleges that Michel Cordon Bleu Inc. of Los Angeles, and its owner and President Michel G. Blanchet, failed to maintain “controls necessary to minimize the potential for microorganism growth and contamination.”

It was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District Court of California on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration.

According to the complaint, the FDA inspected Michel Cordon Bleu’s facility, at 3625 S. Western Ave., several times, including twice in 2016, and found conditions that could lead to contamination by the bacteria that cause listeriosis and botulism.

Advertisement

“FDA’s analysis of environmental samples collected during the July-August 2016 inspection revealed the presence of L. mono contamination in multiple locations throughout the Michel Cordon Bleu facility,” it said.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring the company to bring its procedures up to the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point regulations.

Michel Cordon Bleu Vice President El Yaakoube said in an email to The Times that the company has produced the “highest grade of safe smoked seafood” for more than three decades, but he conceded the company has not kept up with new requirements.

Blanchet, 70, “has realized that he is not fit to keep up with all of these changes,” Yaakoube said, and is in the process of selling the company “to a fully capable firm” that will ensure that “all of these processes are fully compliant with all new and future requirements.”

Advertisement

According to the complaint, about 70% of Michel Cordon Bleu’s products are sold to distributors; 25% to restaurants, hotels and retailers; and 5% to cruise ship lines. Michel Cordon Bleu ships about 30% of its products via interstate commerce.

doug.smith@latimes.com

@LATDoug


Advertisement