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FDA Warnings: Food Companies with Pest Problems

Mave Enterprises Inc. in North Hollywood and Triple A Services Inc. in Chicago are unrelated food processing and storage facilities with one thing in common.  Both have recently received warning letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about significant pest problems in their facilities.

For Mave Enterprises, rats and mice are the main problem. Last Sept. 27 and 28, FDA inspectors said they found rodent-like excreta pellets “in close proximity to stored food production in various locations” throughout the facility.

This included on pallets, floors, on an onion-salt drum, and boxes of rosemary.  Pellets and hairs collected for laboratory analysis were found to have come from rats and mice.

“These conditions cause the foods stored at your facility, including but not limited to, dry fruit, spices, bubble gum, chocolate, and other candy, to be adulterated within the meaning of Section 402 (a) (4) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act … because these food products have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health,” the Feb. 16 warning letter says.

FDA made the letter public by placing it on the agency’s website on May 17.

Rats and mice were not the only pest problems at Mave Enterprises, however.

The FDA inspection turned up cockroaches, moths, and dead rodents in a glue trap.

FDA’s discovery of the pest infestation at Mave Enterprises caused the company to voluntarily destroy one pallet containing about 80 25-pound boxes of dried apricots (about 2,000 pounds).  In an Oct. 11 letter to FDA, Mave Enterprises says it has renegotiated the terms of its pest control contract to provide more service so that rodent and vermin infestations are addressed immediately.

Mave Enterprises was also cited for allowing its outside trash Dumpster to overflow with “food and other types of waste.”  An employee was observed packing pears with her bare hands, then moving the box and resuming hand-packing without washing or sanitizing her hands.

FDA acknowledges that Mave Enterprises has made “corrective actions” since the inspection, but the warning letters says steps taken to date have not been adequate.

Pest problems at Chicago’s Triple A come from a little further up the food chain.

In an April 20 warning letter, FDA says a small bird defecated over an unattended hot truck loaded with uncovered onion condiments, and a cat was seen roaming the southeast corner of the building near facility stores.  Both small and large birds were seen in the facility; some eating food scraps.

Door openings, plumbing and food carts are problems at Triple A that FDA said it has been trying to get the company to address for some time.

“Carts used to transport finished products, such as ready-to-eat Fruit Plates and ready-to-eat Eggs, Cheese & Crackers, are made of unfinished wood with uneven surface,” FDA says.  “Many carts had bird-like excreta on them.  The material does not ensure that they can be adequately cleaned, and the condition of the carts indicate that they are not properly maintained.”

Triple A says it is having the carts cleaned and treated.  FDA says it will leave it to the next inspection to determine if proper cleaning is occurring.

Both food companies have 15 working days to response to FDA’s concerns.

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