It looks like a foodborne illness disaster just waiting to happen was averted by swift action from our federal government. The FDA announced today that due to extensive rodent and insect infestation throughout a warehouse for the American Mercantile Corporation of Memphis, Tennessee, a warrant was issued and executed by the US Marshalls, resulting in the seizure of more than $1.5 million worth of food products, including herbs and botanicals.
During an inspection of American Mercantile in March, FDA investigators discovered evidence of extensive rodent and insect infestation throughout the company’s warehouse. The company failed to correct these problems. Acting on a warrant issued by the United Stated District Court in Memphis, U.S. Marshals seized all FDA-regulated food products exposed to rodent and insect contamination at the facility. The seized products violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because they were held under insanitary conditions under which they may have become contaminated with filth.
“FDA will not tolerate a company’s failure to adequately control and prevent filth in its facility,” said Michael Chappell, the FDA’s acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “The FDA is prepared to use whatever legal means are necessary and appropriate to keep potentially contaminated products out of the marketplace.”
American Mercantile stores and processes food ingredients, which are then sold to and used in the dietary supplement and herbal tea industries. The seized articles include food products, such as sarsaparilla, spearmint leaves, cornstarch, sweet orange peels powder, licorice powder, sassafras, and salt.
The FDA has no reports of illness associated with consumption of the products.