North Philly food warehouse taken to federal court

An unidentified man enters the New Rich City Trading Co. at 2560 N. American Street on May 29, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pa. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

FEDERAL AUTHORITIES yesterday filed suit against a food distributor in North Philadelphia's Fairhill section, saying the firm failed to improve improper conditions after four Food and Drug Administration inspections dating to 2011.

The suit alleges that FDA inspectors who visited New Rich City Trading Corp., on American Street near Huntingdon, discovered "the widespread presence of animals such as rodents, birds, cats, and dogs, as well as the animals' feces and urine, throughout the facility, including on and around articles of food."

The suit seeks to stop the firm from selling food kept in filthy conditions in violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

"It is unacceptable for any distributor to expose the food we eat to animals, animal waste, and other filth," U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said.

The company sells to businesses and restaurants "all over Philadelphia," its president and owner, Xiaoping Sun, told the Daily News yesterday.

Manager Yan Chuen said most customers pick up their food at the warehouse. He declined to name businesses or restaurants who buy from his firm.

Chuen said the company has addressed all problems cited after the FDA's most recent inspection in November 2012.

"We have the cleanest warehouse in Philadelphia," he said.

"We need dogs for this kind of neighborhood," Chuen said at the warehouse, while driving in boxes of broccoli with a forklift. "We keep them outside, they come in to eat and then we send them out."

The federal complaint said that birds entered through a garage door left open during hours of operation. The door has since been covered by vinyl-strip curtains, Chuen said.

As for the cats, he said: "The owner used to keep cats, but we got rid of them for the FDA."

"We're a mom-and-pop warehouse," Chuen said. "We work hard six days a week, do all to please the government institutions. It's not like we want to hurt people."

The company has annual sales of $2 million, according to Patty Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.