At the request of the US Food and Drug Administration, US Marshals seized food products held at the food storage and processing facility of Dominguez Foods of Washington, in Zillah, WA, on Sept. 30, 2011.
The seized products had been subject to a detention order issued by FDA on Sept. 2, 2011, following an FDA inspection of the facility that found evidence of widespread and active rodent and insect infestation in the facility's warehouse and processing area.
In a complaint filed Sept. 29, 2011, the United States alleged that the detained food was adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) due to the conditions in the warehouse documented during FDA's inspection. The complaint asked the Court to issue a warrant of arrest for the products, which directed the US Marshals to seize the products, and requested that the Court condemn and forfeit the food to the United States. The US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington issued a warrant of arrest for the products the same day.
The action represents the first seizure of food subject to an FDA detention order. Pursuant to the FFDCA, as amended by the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act, FDA may order the detention of food found during an inspection when the investigator has reason to believe that such food is adulterated or misbranded. Food subject to an FDA detention order may not be transferred from the place at which it is detained until it is released by FDA or the detention order expires. A detention order may remain in place for up to 30 days to allow FDA to take appropriate action under the FFDCA, such as seizure.
"FDA will not hesitate to take immediate steps to protect the public's health," says Dara A. Corrigan, the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "We will aggressively use our enforcement tools to prevent adulterated food from reaching the public."
During their inspection of the Dominguez Foods facility, FDA investigators observed rodent droppings and urine stains on and around food products, rodent gnawed containers of food, a rodent nesting site, and one dead rodent in the warehouse, as well as live and dead insects in, on, and around food products. The investigators took immediate action, issuing a detention order covering all of the food in the facility not in hermetically sealed containers at the end of their inspection.