April 15, 2013
RIDGEWOOD, N.Y.Investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have detected an infestation of rodents at a warehouse that manufactures and distributes kosher foods, leading to a seizure by U.S. Marshals. No illnesses have been associated with the food, although an FDA official characterized the conditions in the warehouse as "deplorable".
On April 12, federal authorities seized various food products worth about $1 million in a manufacturing facility and warehouse operated by V.I.P. Foods Inc., according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
A complaint filed in federal court alleges V.I.P. Foods violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and federal prosecutors are seeking condemnation and seizure of the food products.
V.I.P. Foods housed various dried mixes and bases, such as chicken soup base, blueberry muffin mix and bread crumbs; and the conditions inside this warehouse were just deplorable," said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDAs acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, in a statement Monday. We will continue to take aggressive action to protect public health."
The food was seized two months after FDA investigators discovered live rodents, a dead rodent, and other evidence of the critters, including what appeared to be its tracks, gnaw holes and excreta pellets in or near food products, according to FDA. That wasn't the first discovery of a rodent infestation at the facility. In October 2012, inspectors detected live and dead mice and food containers that rodents had gnawed on among other evidence, The New York Times reported, citing the lawsuit.
The company's "warehouse was a picnic ground for rodents," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement Friday, "and the company failed utterly in its obligation to provide food deemed safe for human consumption."
FDA noted some of the food is distributed under the name VIP Foods Inc., VIP, V.I.P. or KoJel while other V.I.P. foods are distributed under private labels.
V.I.P. Foods did not immediately respond to a phone message left Monday seeking comment. The privately owned company was founded in 1983 as a supplier of soup bases and dessert mixes, according to its website.
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