Feds Seize Kosher Foods in Rodent-Infested Facility

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

April 15, 2013

2 Min Read
Feds Seize Kosher Foods in Rodent-Infested Facility

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.

About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

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