US Marshals seize adulterated food worth $70k

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/Davizro
©iStock/Davizro
US Marshals have seized adulterated food worth more than $70,000 from a Minnesota warehouse.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the US Marshals Service made the seizure last week at Professional Warehouse and Distribution, Inc. in St. Paul.

The agency said it acted to prevent food distribution from the ‘insanitary and filthy’ facility.

Professional Warehouse and Distribution, Inc. stores food and non-food items.

Food products seized are worth $73,000 and include barley flour, spices, pasta, dried beans, tea and cookies.  

No illnesses have been associated with food held at Professional Warehouse and Distribution, Inc.

Peter Cassell, FDA press officer, said: “FDA is currently determining the identities of the persons and companies who stored food products at Professional Warehouse and Distribution.

To the FDA’s knowledge, Professional Warehouse and Distribution, Inc. does not produce food, but stores both food and non-food products in its facility. During litigation the food products cannot be distributed into commerce.”

Inspections find problems

The US Department of Justice filed a complaint on behalf of the FDA in the US District Court in Minnesota alleging products are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

FDA inspected the facility twice in 2015. In February, the FDA found insanitary conditions that could cause food to become adulterated.

The company was inspected again in October 2015. It had not implemented the corrective actions promised following the earlier inspection and the FDA identified additional issues at the warehouse.

It promised to address issues but the FDA found additional problems during an inspection in 2017.

Melinda K. Plaisier, FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said storage conditions in the warehouse were ‘simply unacceptable’.

“The FDA plays a key role protecting public health and ensuring not only that food is properly manufactured and labeled, but that it is handled and stored correctly as well.”

In May, the FDA detained products at the facility after witnessing widespread vermin activity during the inspection this year.

FDA can detain a food or dietary supplement if it has reason to believe the product is adulterated or misbranded and can keep detained products out of the marketplace for 20 days while it determines whether to take further enforcement action.

The detained products were then seized by US Marshals or embargoed by the state of Minnesota.

During litigation, the food products cannot be distributed. Whether they are destroyed or put back into distribution will depend on the outcome of the litigation.

Accreditation body recognition

FDA has also launched a website where organizations can apply​ to be recognized as a third-party accreditation body.

It is part of the Accredited Third-Party Certification program, a voluntary program created by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Accreditation bodies recognized by FDA can accredit third-party certification bodies or third-party auditors.

These accredited certification bodies will do food safety audits of foreign food entities and, based on audit findings, may issue certifications and the foods for humans and animals that they produce.

Such certifications may be used to help establish eligibility for the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) - also established by FSMA.

Related topics: Ready-to-Eat, Regulation and safety, FSMA

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