A federal court Monday ordered a Carneys Point, NJ, company to stop distributing adulterated pet food that is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).  Pet food contaminated with Salmonella puts humans at risk when it is handled by pet owners.

In a complaint filed on March 15, the United States alleged that Bravo Packing Inc., and its owners and operators Joseph Merola and Amanda Lloyd, violated the FDCA by distributing adulterated animal food and by causing animal food to become adulterated while held for sale.

The complaint alleged that samples collected during U.S. Food and Drug Administration  inspections of the Bravo facility in July 2019 and April 2021 contained Salmonella, a pathogenic microorganism that can cause the illness known as salmonellosis in both humans and animals.

Salmonella can be transferred from animal food to humans through handling of the food, or directly from infected animals.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

Defendants agree to terms
“Animal food manufacturers must ensure that their products are safe,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The department will continue to work closely with the FDA to ensure that pet food is manufactured in compliance with the law.”

“The food we give our pets should be safe for them to eat and safe for people to handle,” said Director Steven Solomon of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “The FDA has taken this action to protect public health because, despite multiple inspections, notifications of violations, and recalls, this firm continued to operate under insanitary conditions and produce pet food contaminated with harmful bacteria. We will not tolerate firms that put people or animals at risk and will take enforcement actions when needed.”

The defendants agreed to settle the suit and be bound by a consent decree of a permanent injunction. The negotiated consent decree requires, among other things, that the defendants stop receiving, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packing, holding, and distributing adulterated pet food until they take specific remedial measures and demonstrate to the FDA that they will comply with federal law.

The government was represented by Trial Attorney Noah T. Katzen of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, with the assistance of Tara Boland of the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey also provided assistance.

Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.

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