Atlanta: U.S. Marshals, acting under a court order sought by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, seized an estimated $700,000 worth of rice and other packaged food products from a rodent-infested warehouse in East Point, GA, last week.
The FDA-regulated food products were stored in a warehouse operated by Sun Hong Kai Holding Inc., which does business as United Food Service.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued a warrant for the seizure of all FDA-regulated food stored in the warehouse in permeable containers. The federal government's complaint alleges that the products are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because they have been held under insanitary conditions and may have become contaminated with filth.
An FDA inspection of United Food Service's facility between Sept. 22, 2010, and Oct 1, 2010, revealed "an active and widespread rodent infestation, including live and dead rodents within the warehouse where food products are stored," according to the complaint.
"United Food Service not only failed to protect the food in this warehouse, it failed to act promptly to correct the violations," said Dara A. Corrigan, the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "This prompted the FDA, working together with its state partner, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, to take these aggressive enforcement actions to protect the health of consumers."
FDA investigators found 28 live rodents, one dead rodent, apparent rodent droppings, 26 apparent rodent gnaw holes in multiple packages of food products, rodent urine stains on food packaging and four rodent nesting sites.
FDA laboratory analyses of samples collected during the inspection confirmed the investigators' observations. FDA investigators also found structural defects making the facility accessible to rodents.
On Sept. 30, 2010, the Georgia Department of Agriculture placed all food in the warehouse under an order that prevents sale of the products. A day later, FDA investigators provided the warehouse manager a list documenting the violations.