US federal marshals have seized more than $1m worth of goods in a raid on a food processor’s rodent infested facility in Nashville, said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA said it had ordered the raid to prevent distribution of adulterated bulk restaurant food at a Won Feng Trading Company warehouse. The agency said the products had been stored under “unsanitary conditions whereby they may have been contaminated with filth”.
The marshals confiscated all FDA-regulated foods, such as 44-pound bags of rice and frozen food products that it said were susceptible to “contamination by rodents, insects or other filth”. The FDA said it had not received any reports of consumer illnesses.
The company, which receives and stores food from the throughout the US, had previously been warned by the FDA over the unsanitary conditions at its Tennessee facility. A warning letter from the body sent in May 2009 detailed a raft of violations of Good Manufacturing Practice – including ineffective measures to combat pests.
In June, the company told the FDA it had addressed the issues. However, a follow up visit by federal inspectors last November revealed “widespread rodent infestation in the building, including live and dead rodents, rodent hair, rodent nesting material, evidence of rodent-gnawed food, and rodent urine”, said the agency. Insect filth, live birds in the building and structural defects that could allow pests to get into food storage areas were also noted.
The FDA said it was such unsanitary conditions that triggered the seizure of the goods – estimated to be worth more than $1m – after the District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee issued marshals with a warrant.
"The violations at Won Feng Trading are both serious and repetitive,” said Michael Chappell, the FDA’s acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “The FDA will take actions against any food companies that fail to provide adequate safeguards to ensure that products they produce or hold for sale remain free of contamination.”