PetCo Warehouse Raided, Pet Food SeizedJun 23, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
At the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) request, U.S. Marshals seized a variety of potentially tainted pet food products stored under filthy conditions at the PetCo Animal Supplies Distribution Center located in Joliet, Illinois. The warehouse had a widespread rodent and bird infestation near open food containers of dog and cat food. This move followed a warrant issued by the US District Court in Chicago.
Marshals seized all FDA-regulated animal food susceptible to rodent and pest contamination; seized products violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Apparently, it has been alleged in a case filed by the US Attorney that the products were being held under unsanitary conditions. And, in April, during an FDA inspection of a PetCo distribution center, widespread and active rodent and bird infestation was found. A second such FDA inspection in May found continuing and widespread infestation. "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," said Margaret O'K. Glavin, 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."
PetCo’s Joliet, Illinois distribution center supplies a number of PetCo retail stores in 16 states—Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin—with pet food products and supplies. According to the FDA, California’s PetCo stores were not issued products from the Joliet warehouse.
While there have not been any reports of pet illness or death associated with consumption of animal food distributed by PetCo, to date, the seized products were stored in permeable packages and maintained under conditions that could affect the food's integrity and quality. There may be some obvious warning signs of problems with the food. Look at the pet food bag and check for holes or stains. When the bag is opened, check for unusual smells. If any of this is present in the product, the food may be contaminated and is not to be used. This sort of contamination could cause a virus that can lead to kidney and liver problems according to veterinarian Sara Granberg. “The first signs we see of that is drinking and urinating more than normal," said Dr. Granberg.
No recall has been issued and as a precaution, consumers who have handled products originating from the Joliet PetCo distribution center are urged to thoroughly wash their hands with hot water and soap. Any surfaces that came in contact with the packages should be washed as well. Consumers are further advised, as a precaution. to thoroughly wash products sold in cans and glass containers from PetCo in the 16 affected states. If a pet has become ill after eating PetCo food products, pet owners should contact their veterinarian and report illnesses to FDA state consumer complaint coordinators:http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html.
PetCo representatives say they have corrected the problems the FDA addressed in its reports.