Contaminated Food Seized at Washington Food Distributor

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard, Jr. and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, MD, PhD, jointly announced that on Nov. 26, 2003, at the FDA's request, United States Marshals seized articles of adulterated food from Phoenix Enterprises, LLC, a food distributor and storage warehouse in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Marshals seized scores of containers of food at this facility after a government investigation determined that the articles of food had been subject to widespread and active rodent infestation. The United States has also filed a civil Verified Complaint for Forfeiture in Rem against the adulterated food articles in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking condemnation of the food articles in accordance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

"This enforcement of federal consumer laws gives notice that the citizens of the District of Columbia must and will be protected from adulterated food," said U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard, Jr.

The Government's Verified Complaint alleges that an inspection conducted by the FDA has disclosed widespread and active rodent infestation at Phoenix Enterprises, LLC. According to the Verified Complaint, multiple dead rodents, as well as a number of rodent nests, rodent gnaw holes, and hundreds of rodent excreta pellets were observed in storage areas throughout this facility, in, on and around the articles of food. The seized articles of food include food in permeable containers, such as paper, cloth, boxes, cartons and plastic, which are subject to penetration by rodents or their filth.

"FDA will use its enforcement powers to take action against those firms that violate Federal food safety laws designed to protect the food supply," said McClellan. "Firms that allow their food products to become contaminated with animal filth and infested by rodents and other pests have no place in the food business." FDA took action to seize the food products after Phoenix Enterprises repeatedly ignored FDA's warnings to take corrective action to prevent food from being contaminated. The most recent inspection of Phoenix, conducted in September 2003, revealed inadequate pest control and failure to maintain the warehouse structure to prevent pests from contaminating food products stored inside.

Phoenix Enterprises markets and distributes dried oriental noodles and other miscellaneous dried food products. The following products are examples of some of the products in the warehouse: Tapioca Ball, Nong Shim Chin Cup, Nong Shim Neoguri Udon Seafood and Spicy, Tapioca Starch, Vifon Pho Bo An Lien Oriental Style Beef Noodle, Pute Tamarind without Seed, Rock Sugar Yellow Lump, Egret Brand His Nhua Rice Stick, and Peeled Split Mung Bean. To protect the public, FDA will continue to seize any food product that is prepared, packed or held under unsanitary conditions whereby it may become contaminated with filth or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health.

Source: FDA