Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin cited concern over public health as the reason for levying the largest fine relating to food safety in the Georgia Department of Agriculture's history against a company for violations of state food laws.

Commissioner Irvin announced today that an East Point wholesale food distributor has been fined $504,000 by the Georgia Department of Agriculture for violating The Georgia Food Act and The Georgia Egg Law.

Kai Cheun Wong, president of Chong Mei Trading, Incorporated, 1130 Oakleigh Drive, East Point, signed the settlement agreement order at the Agriculture Building yesterday afternoon. The company will have to pay $130,000. The remaining $374,000 is suspended but will have to be paid if the company does not remain in compliance with the order during a five-year probationary period.

Most of the violations are due to rodent infestation. "The warehouse was in deplorable condition. There were rat droppings and chewed bags of rice. It posed a serious public health concern," said Commissioner Irvin. "Our inspectors have overseen the destruction of the contaminated products. More than 15 tons of food had to be destroyed."

"As part of the agreement, the company has moved to another location until the current facility is brought into compliance. The company's warehouse employees and truck drivers will have to complete a course on food safety and handling. The company will also have to employ a qualified manager knowledgeable in food safety," said Irvin.

"This is the largest fine we have ever levied against a company for selling adulterated food. The case took hundreds of hours to investigate and resolve. It is an excellent example of the work our department does to protect the public," said Irvin.