Citing evidence of “widespread and active rodent and insect infestation,” the Food and Drug Administration had U.S. Marshals seize food products being held in the warehouse and processing plant of Dominguez Foods of Washington on Sept. 30.

The seized products had been detained by FDA since Sept. 2, following an inspection that found evidence of rodents and insects in the Zillah-based facility.

In a complaint filed Sept. 29 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, the government alleged that the detained food was adulterated as defined by law.  The complaint asked the court to issue a warrant of arrest for the products, which directed the U.S. Marshals to seize the food, and requested that the court condemn and forfeit the food to the United States.  

The court issued a warrant the same day, an action that represents the first seizure of food subject to an FDA detention order.

Under the Food Safety and Modernization Act, FDA may hold food that an inspector has reason to believe is adulterated or misbranded, and gives the FDA 30 days to allow the agency to take appropriate action, such as seizure.

“FDA will not hesitate to take immediate steps to protect the public’s health,” said Dara A. Corrigan, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, in a news release  “We will aggressively use our enforcement tools to prevent adulterated food from reaching the public.”

During their inspection of the Dominguez Foods facility, FDA investigators said they observed rodent droppings and urine stains on and around food products, rodent-gnawed containers of food, a rodent nesting site and one dead rodent in the warehouse, as well as live and dead insects in, on and around food products.  The investigators immediately issued a detention order covering all the food in the facility that was not in sealed containers.