Houston company cited for $3M PACA violations
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has imposed sanctions on Bella Fresh Houston LLC in Houston, TX, for violating the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. These sanctions include barring the business and the principal operators of the business from engaging in PACA-licensed business or other activities without approval from USDA.
Bella Fresh failed to pay $3.15 million to 10 sellers for produce that was purchased, received and accepted in interstate and foreign commerce from December 2017 to May 2019. This is in violation of the PACA. Bella Fresh cannot operate in the produce industry until Jan. 9, 2023, and then only after they apply for and are issued a new PACA license by USDA.
The company’s principal, Andrew Ruggiero, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until Jan. 9, 2022, and then only with the posting of a USDA approved surety bond.
In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 3,625 PACA claims involving more than $104 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 7,600 callers with issues valued at approximately $166 million.