PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - It’s a small shop on the corner of 7th and Dickinson in the heart of South Philadelphia. Customers come and go all day at the J & B Poultry Market. They pick out live chickens, wait for them to be slaughtered, and then handed over right on the street.
"The chickens are held under conditions that are unsanitary, exceedingly high temperatures, for example 80 degrees," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Smith told FOX 29.
The U.S. Attorney for Philadelphia has now filed suit against the tiny poultry shop and its owner, Johnny Wong, claiming inspections showed they sold chickens that were improperly labeled or stored in insanitary conditions that could harm consumers.
"It's about the safety of the food that is being consumed by the public," Smith explained.
"I don't shop there. I would never," said Adrienne Moore in South Philadelphia Wednesday. "It upsets me that they're not following regulations. Animals aren't treated properly."
The complaint says that at one point inspectors found 40 bags containing 1,000 pounds of chicken in the back of a pickup truck on ice. The owner voluntarily agreed to destroy the chicken.
Neighbors, like this woman who didn't want to be identified, say this legal action is long overdue.
"I hate it. I report it to the city before. I call 3-1-1. In the same day, they just closed the case," she told FOX 29.
The suit also says chicken were misbranded, sold without handling instructions . We stopped in to ask Mr. Wong some questions about the conditions and the new lawsuit. We were told by employees that he was not in today.
The lawsuit filed in federal court seeks to stop violations at the shop and protect consumers. The owner has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit. The judge is then expected to hold a hearing on the government’s lawsuit against Mr. Wong. The U.S. attorney says the violations date back to 2009 and included four prior warnings by federal inspectors.