U.S. Marshals Thursday seized about $200,000 worth of food products from the Bedford Cheese Store in Shelbyville, TN, after U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigators said they found evidence of rodents throughout the company’s facility.
According to an agency news release, an FDA inspection found rodent feces, rodent hair, rodent nesting material, and building defects that could allow rodents and other pests to enter food storage and other areas.
Following the inspection, Bedford Cheese committed in writing to cleaning up the store but FDA alleged it failed to complete all corrective actions, including the development and implementation of a pest control plan to get rid of the rodents.
FDA then acted to prevent distribution of adulterated food. Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, food is considered adulterated “because it has been held under unsanitary conditions and may have become contaminated with filth.”
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Tennessee at Chattanooga elaborated on the alleged conditions at Bedford Cheese, stating FDA inspectors found rodent gnaw marks on food cartons and food products and numerous clumps of used chewing tobacco throughout the store. The complaint said inspectors observed poor hygiene and food handling practices.
“The violations at Bedford Cheese are widespread and significant,” said Dara A. Corrigan, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, in the agency’s statement. “This enforcement action was taken because the company failed to provide adequate safeguards to ensure that products they produce or hold for sale remain free of contamination.”
Products seized at Bedford Cheese included cheese, frozen foods, pastas, salad dressings, prepared salads, soups, and various bulk ingredients, the FDA said. The complaint ordered the forfeiture of 96 cases of cheese, as well as “all other articles of food in various sizes and types of containers (excluding sealed metal and glass containers).”
The store’s logo, perhaps unfortunately, features a cartoon mouse perched atop a wedge of Swiss cheese.