The Auburn, WA-based Punjab Trading Inc., which processes and stores food including red split lentils, was operating below the radar until this past February. That’s when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) paid a visit and collected some of those lentils for analysis by FDA’s Pacific Regional Laboratory Northwest.
“Laboratory analyses confirmed the presence of bird excreta on multiple bags of this product, and bird excreta in the contents of one (1) bag while held at your facility,” FDA said in a July 6 warning letter to the company. The presence of bird excreta means the lentils are considered to be adulterated and unfit for food, FDA added.
In addition to significant code violations, FDA said Punjab Trading was not registered with the federal government as required by law. The warning letter gives the company 30 working days to register, a task that can be accomplished online.
The major problem at Punjab Trading was birds. Live birds were found inside the facility, sitting on stored and packaged food, on wooden pallets used to hold bags, and on boxes of finished product,
Bird excreta was found on poly-woven plastic bags, and there were stains on the outside surfaces. There was bird excreta on cardboard boxes, on the outside of bags of cumin seed, Papdi Chat Indian snacks and chickpeas.
In the warehouse, inspectors found both bird excreta and rodent excreta pellets. The rodent mess was found in front of the walk-in cooler, behind a walk-in freezer, and on the floor in a corner.
Bird excreta in the warehouses was on poly-weave plastic bags of split lentils, on wooden pallets, on burlap bags and on cardboard boxes holding packaged food. Bird excreta was found on the plastic wrap surrounding the finished product and on the floor.
FDA said Punjab Trading failed to provide adequate screening to keep pests out, failed to maintain its buildings in a sanitary condition, and failed to provide sufficient space for equipment and storage of materials.
The company was given 15 working days to respond to FDA with information on how it is addressing the “noted violations and to prevent recurrence.”
“If corrective action cannot be completed within 15 working days, state the reason for the delay and the time within which corrections will be completed,” Charles Breen, FDA’s Seattle district director, advised.
Punjab Trading Inc. is a privately held wholesaler. It was established in 2007.