Dixie Mills Old Fashioned Yellow Grits, manufactured in Tifton, GA, were being made in an inadequately maintained facility infested with rodents and insects, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
In a March 22 warning letter to Tifton-based Dixie Mills, the FDA resorted to using the acronym TNTC — for too numerous to count — in describing the “rodent and insect activity throughout the plant.”
The lot of grits sampled by FDA during its inspection last Jan. 13-19 was disposed of by Dixie Mills, but in the FDA’s view, the company did not provide adequate evidence that any additional action was taken to identify other potentially adulterated products or to prevent a future recurrence.
In the processing areas of the grit plant, FDA said it found:
— Insects TNTC in a pallet containing cases of 12 to 20 oz. bags of Dixie Mills Old Fashioned Yellow Grits being held for sale in the finished product warehouse. The insects were on the top of the cases, stuck around tape on the cases, inside the cases on product packaging, and inside the product packaging of yellow grits.
— Rodent urine stains were found on the top layer of the cases of grits stored on the pallet.
— Old and fresh rodent excreta pellets TNTC were found around the walls, along wall beams, under shelving, and under and on pallets of old packaging and damaged product in the warehouse.
— Old and fresh rodent excreta pellets TNTC were found inside bagging equipment, on bagging conveyor belts, under tables and machinery, and along walls of the bagging room.
— Old and fresh rodent excreta pellets TNTC and bird droppings on bags of raw ingredients and along the floor in the ingredient staging area, and
— Rodent excreta pellets TNTC in the corners and under equipment throughout the plant, including in the cleaning room, first floor regular grind room, and second floor regular grind room.
The FDA warning letter said Dixie Mills had biweekly service from a pest control technician who marked rodent activity in a logbook, but that the company took no corrective action.
Peeling paint in the Dixie Mill facility could fall into the product during manufacturing or on to equipment or the west walls in the bagging room, FDA said. There were holes revealing daylight in the ceiling at the northwest corner of the warehouse.
There was also evidence of water leaks in the warehouse along the ridge vent, the northwest corner and at the gutter in the center walkway, and the west wall in the bagging room.
“We acknowledge that your firm initiated efforts prior to the close of the inspection to correct some of the objectionable observations noted, ” FDA wrote. “For example, on 1/18/11, our investigators observed that litter, waste, and plant foliage that had been observed in various locations outside the facility had been removed.
“They observed that the majority of old product build up, dust, cobwebs, and other debris had been removed from various areas throughout the plant. The rodent excreta pellets and bird droppings had also been removed. As stated above, we are aware that the previously mentioned pallets of Dixie Mills Old Fashioned Yellow Grits were diverted for use as animal feed or otherwise removed from the facility.
“Although these corrective actions addressed in part some of the immediate violations observed during the inspection, we have not received a response from you outlining the procedures you have taken or intend to take to determine the underlying causes of the violations noted and to prevent their recurrence or the occurrence of additional violations.
“Failure to take actions to promptly and adequately correct all of these violations may result in FDA initiation of regulatory actions including, but not limited to, seizure or injunction.”
Dixie Mills was incorporated in Georgia in 2007. It employs a half dozen people.