Photos Inside Dirty Fremont Plant

Fremont company recalls 16 products due to contamination of filth following NBC Bay Area investigation.

By Tony Kovaleski, Liz Wagner and Felipe Escamilla
|  Friday, Jul 27, 2012  |  Updated 11:07 AM PDT
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Fremont-based San Francisco Herb & Natural Food Company issues a nationwide recall of 16 products following an ongoing investigation by NBC Bay Area Chief Investigator Tony Kovaleski. This video aired on 7/25/12.

Fremont-based San Francisco Herb & Natural Food Company issues a nationwide recall of 16 products following an ongoing investigation by NBC Bay Area Chief Investigator Tony Kovaleski. This video aired on 7/25/12.

Photos and Videos

Bay Area Food Company Issues Nation-wide Recall

Fremont company recalls 16 products following NBC Bay Area investigation.

Secret Rodent Infestation Uncovered

Chief Investigator Tony Kovaleski uncovers a secret rodent infestation at an East Bay food distributor, prompting the California Department of Public Health to shut down the facility and request a national recall. Originally aired 7/24/12.
More Photos and Videos

San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company issued a voluntary recall of 16 products one day after an NBC Bay Area Investigation uncovered a "massive rodent infestation" at the company's Fremont plant.

The company said there are no reported illnesses connected to any of their products.

The items listed in the recall were mostly sold on the internet across the United States, according to the company.

"San Francisco Herb is working with the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take corrective measures and address any health concerns."

Click here to see list of recalled products

If you have an item on the list you are supposed to destroy it. If you want a refund remove the white sticker found on the back of the package and contact Dr. Fahimeh Niroomand of San Francisco Herb & Natural Foods Company at 510-770-1215, ex. 115.

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has been working on this story for two months.

After the California health department learned of our investigation it issued an embargo of more than a million pounds of product at the Fremont plant, essentially shutting it down.

Here is our initial report that sparked this recall:

The California Department of Public Health has told NBC Bay Area News that a “massive rodent infestation” has lead the state agency to shut down a major East Bay food distributor and request that the company launch a nationwide recall. The actions came after the state learned about a two-month NBC Bay Area investigation.

The state agency placed an embargo on Fremont-based San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company earlier this month and now has requested that the natural food, tea and herb distributor recall products it has recently sold in California and throughout the country. The embargo prevented the company from selling and distributing more than a million pounds of product in California and to its online customers throughout the world.

“We found a massive rodent infestation throughout the facility including direct product infestation,” Patrick Kennelly, Chief of the Food Safety Section of the California Department of Public Health told NBC Bay Area Chief Investigator Tony Kovaleski. Kennelly said state inspectors also found evidence of  “dead rodent bodies, live bodies, fecal and urine contamination on products.”

According to the company’s website, San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company has been in business for 40 years. Its warehouse facility is located in Fremont off of Highway 880, just north of the former Solyndra Plant.

Kennelly said the decision to shut down the facility and request a nationwide recall came after state health inspectors discovered a massive rodent infestation in late June, adding that his inspectors found “evidence that products in the facility had been adulterated by filth including rodent excrete and rodent urine.”

He added that state inspectors also discovered rodents burrowing into products.

“It is still a very active infestation in the facility,” Kennelly said. 

According to the state, the owners of San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company are cooperating with investigators and are expected to announce the company’s voluntary national recall in the next two days.

When asked if the actions were unusual Kennelly responded, “It is very unusual. This is a 150,000 square foot warehouse that has two stories and for us to embargo all the products in that facility because of the massive level of contamination throughout the facility, occurs very rarely.”

NBC Bay Area’s ongoing investigation began in May and in recent weeks Kovaleski contacted the owners of San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company. The owners offered no comment and declined to review any of the information uncovered by the investigation. The owners hired an attorney who contacted the Investigative Unit at NBC Bay Area and said the company would have no comment.

 

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