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FDA Moves to Shut Down Spice Processor

In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seized food at American Mercantile, a Tennessee company whose website says it is a “worldwide importer, exporter, dealer and processor of bulk natural products including spices, seeds, herbs, botanical, extracts, essential oils, natural pigments, sweeteners and raw materials.”

That action came after federal investigators said the wholesaler’s processing plant was poorly maintained and filthy, with widespread evidence of insects and rodents and that raw materials were not being properly stored to protect against contamination. The FDA alleges that the company failed to correct the safety violations, even after receiving warning letters.

On Wednesday, the FDA said it was requesting a permanent injunction against American Mercantile Corp. and Ingredients Corp. of America, as well as Damon Arney, owner and president of both companies.

The complaint, filed by the Justice Department in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, charges that the Memphis-based companies and Arney violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by preparing, packing and holding food under unsanitary conditions.

“The FDA continues to take strong enforcement actions against companies like this one that have a history of violations,” said Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, Dara Corrigan, in a news release.  “The actions we are taking are necessary to assure consumers that foods they buy are prepared, packaged, and held under sanitary conditions where they will not become contaminated with filth.”

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