U.S. Marshalls have seized various animal food products from a PETCO distribution center that serves much of the middle of the country after federal inspectors found widespread and active rodent and bird infestation.
The distribution center in Joliet, Ill., provides pet food products and supplies to PETCO retail stores in 16 states: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
The products were seized at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on a warrant issued by the U.S. District Court in Chicago. "We simply will not allow a company to store foods under filthy and unsanitary conditions that occur as a direct result of the company's failure to adequately control and prevent pests in its facility," says Margaret Glavin, the FDA's Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs. "Consumers expect that such safeguards will be in place not only for human food, but for pet food as well."
The unsanitary storage problems were first found during an FDA inspection of the PETCO distribution center in April. Another FDA inspection in May found continuing and widespread infestation.
In a letter to customers posted on its Web site, PETCO's CEO Jim Myers acknowledged that mice had opened packages of food in the warehouse and added, "Since the May inspection, we have acted aggressively to address every concern raised by the FDA."
The FDA says that neither the agency nor PETCO have received reports of pet illnesses or deaths from consuming animal food distributed by PETCO, and the agency does not have evidence that the food is unsafe for animals. However, it cautions that the seized products were in permeable packages and held under conditions that could affect the food's integrity and quality.
The FDA offers the following safety tips for consumers who suspect they have animal food products from the PETCO distribution center:
- Consumers who have handled the products should thoroughly wash their hands with hot water and soap.
- Any surfaces that came in contact with the product packages should also be washed.
- Products sold in cans and glass containers from PETCO in the 16 affected states should also be thoroughly washed.
- If a pet becomes ill after eating these food products, pet owners should contact their veterinarian and report illnesses to the FDA's consumer complaint coordinators for their geographic areas.