FDA Seizes Tainted Food from Warehouse

By Tony Kovaleski and Jason Middleton
|  Sunday, Aug 26, 2012  |  Updated 6:40 PM PDT
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Federal agents have seized food from a processing plant exposed in an NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit.

Federal agents have seized food from a processing plant exposed in an NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit.

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Federal and state authorities have seized contaminated food products from a rodent-infested food processing plant exposed last month in an NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit report.

U.S. Marshals moved in on San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company's Fremont, Calif., plant on Wednesday, according to a release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FDA inspectors found significant insanitary conditions throughout the warehouse during a recent inspection in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. These conditions included the presence of live and dead rodents in and around food products, and apparent rodent nesting materials in food.  Read FDA press release on the seizure here.

The Department of Justice also issued a news release detailing the legal precedent for the substantial seizure of food stuffs. Among the reported findings:

  • Live rodents in and around food
  • Dead rodents throughout the warehouse
  • Dead rodents in food
  • Gnawed and urine-stained packages of food
  • Live and dead insects on food and food packages
  • Numerous rodent excreta in and around food products
  • Rodents nesting in food
  • Gaps in exterior doors and holes leading outside

"The violations at San Francisco Herb & Natural Food Company in Fremont, Calif., are widespread and significant," Dara A. Corrigan, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said. "This prompted the FDA working together with its state partner, the State of California's Department of Public Health to take these aggressive enforcement actions to protect the health of consumers."

Late this afternoon San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company issued the following statement:

"San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company was surprised by the action taken yesterday by the FDA with respect to the seizure of its product but intends to work in good faith with the FDA to quickly resolve the  remaining differences with the FDA about the seized product. However, if the San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company cannot reach a quick and reasonable resolution with the FDA it intends to file the appropriate papers with the court to protect its rights with regards to the seized property." Signed Adam A. Alberti, Executive Vice President Signer Associates Inc.

You can read the Department of Justice press release at this link.

To date, there have been no illnesses in association with the warehouse's food stuffs, according to the release.

The FDA said that any illnesses or adverse events related to the use of the products should be reported to the FDA at (240)  402-2405.

The Investigative Unit first exposed the warehouse conditions on July 24, with subsequent stories leading up to Wednesday's actions.

The list of recalled items can be read HERE.

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