Inspection Would Stop Freezer Queen From Leaving Decrepit and Unsound Building
Buffalo, NY—Today Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) sent a letter to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown to discuss the distressing situation at the Freezer Queen facility at 975 Fuhrmann Blvd in Buffalo. Specifically, Higgins asked Mayor Brown to have Buffalo’s building inspectors give the facility a thorough examination as soon as possible. Higgins also forwarded documents he requested and received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to Mayor Brown which details the specific violations at the Freezer Queen facility.
Higgins’ letter to Mayor Brown comes after a July 8 story in the Buffalo News reporting that the Freezer Queen facility had been abruptly closed by its owner and that the 175 people employed there were put out of work. The News reported that the plant “failed a food safety inspection in mid-June”, and that “rather than correct the violation, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture would not immediately disclose, the company stopped production.”
After receiving a request from Higgins to disclose Freezer Queen’s violation, USDA sent Higgins a list of documents describing in detail the violations. “The appalling details in these documents strongly suggest a pervasive pattern of poor maintenance, insufficient capital investment and overall poor management of the facility,” said Higgins. “While these poor business practices are detrimental to food safety, these same poor practices can also be detrimental to the actual condition of the building itself. That being the case I respectfully suggest that the City’s building inspectors give the facility a thorough examination as soon as possible.”
“There is an unfortunate pattern which has developed along Buffalo’s waterfront in which large national and international corporations have gotten away with leaving massive, decrepit, unsound buildings without investing in remediation, stabilization or demolition. A thorough examination of the property by the City’s building inspectors would be a positive first step in order to prevent this pattern from repeating itself at the Freezer Queen site,” said Higgins.
Summary of USDA documents on Freezer Queen
(the names of most USDA and Freezer Queen personnel were redacted by the USDA prior to these documents being provided to Congressman Higgins)
Date Highlights of Document
1/23/2006 Live Cockroach in Gravy Tank
2/17/2006 Live Cockroach in Gravy Tank
Cockroach on Stairs beside Gravy Tank
4/20/2006 At a 4:40 a.m. inspection, dried food from the previous day or previous days was found on several machines.
Live Cockroach in machinery.
6/8/2006 More dried food from previous day or days found on machines
Six live German Cockroaches
6/13/06 Letter from Freezer Queen to USDA requesting new USDA inspector.
6/14/2006 USDA meets with Freezer Queen to discuss corrective action
6/16/06 Letter from Freezer Queen to USDA detailing remediation. This document suggests that parts of the facility are strewn with debris and parts are not routinely cleaned.
6/19/2006 Letter from USDA to Freezer Queen explaining that facility was shut down on the 13th because of “cockroach infestations, sanitation performance issues and serious insanitary conditions observed throughout your establishment.” Says that assurances provided by Freezer Queen to date are not good enough for USDA to allow them to reopen.
7/6/2006 Freezer Queen tells USDA it is closing up shop.
7/13/2006 USDA Terminates inspection service at Freezer Queen