Without much attention last November, on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Marshals seized the contents of several Arkansas food warehouses.
The federal district court ordered the warehouse raid. FDA asked for the action in the United States of America vs. 24 Cases of Raisin Bran Cereal and J and L Grocery, LLC, and James T. and Lori A. White.
A consent decree signed ended the dispute on July 18 with defendants J and L Grocery and James T. and Lori A. White admitting their grocery warehouse was, at the time of the raid, contaminated with filth, including widespread insect, rodent and other live animal infestation, in violation of federal law.
They also agreed to stop distributing food, drug products, medical devices or cosmetics or other consent decree requirements. It leaves the door open to them if they comply with the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
“U.S. consumers rely on the oversight and inspection efforts of the FDA to ensure that their foods and medical products are safe. We will not tolerate insanitary conditions at facilities—like J and L Grocery— that serve U.S. consumers,” said FDA Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D.
Dr. Sharpless safety at all points in the supply chain is what keeps Americans safe. He says consumers are put at risk whenever adulterated products make it into the marketplace.
Still, getting these bad actors out of the system did not occur overnight.
FDA inspected the properties last September and October. The agency found multiple live and dead rodents, rodent nests, live raccoons, live cats, a dead possum, animal feces and urine-stained products. Seven warehouses and sheds stored food, medical products, and cosmetics.
FDA issued two Administrative Detention Orders for J and L Grocery on Oct. 9 and 19, 2018. Then on Nov. 7 and 8, 2018, U.S. Marshals conducted a mass seizure of the company’s FDA-regulated human and animal food products, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, cosmetic products, and medical devices.
After the raid, J and L Grocery intervened in the case and filed a claim for all the “seized articles.”
U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes signed the consent decree. It orders the defendants to cease distribution of FDA-regulated products without corrective actions.
The U.S. Attorneys for Western Arkansas filed for injunctive relief on June 14, 2019. J and L Grocery and the White ended up agreeing with the decree “without contest before any testimony has been taken.”
In the consent decree, the defendants acknowledged they alone owned the seized articles, which were for shipment in interstate commerce. Condemnation and destruction of the food taken from the warehouses is the responsibility of the defendants. A $40,000 “penal bond” must be presented to the Clark of the Court within 20 days.
FDA’s Dallas District Office will have oversight of the destruction phase of the order. There is a 30-day period for preparing a “destruction plan.”
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