Retailers who carry snack may want to rethink their compliance strategies. Under new FSMA provisions and increased FDA scrutiny retailers carrying food will need to comply with food storage regulations, among others. Case in point – Staple, Inc. The FDA has sent a warning letter to office products maker Staples over crackers, candy and other snacks that were gnawed by rats at a Stockton, California warehouse Staples operates. The letter also describes dead rodents and rodent excrement found near food items in the facility. Staples, based out of Framingham Massachusetts, sells individual packets of snacks at its stores, and also operates a bulk snack business for its corporate clients.
In the warning letter the FDA wrote that an inspection of the facility between Oct. 20 and Nov. 3, 2011, found that “the foods have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.”
The FDA alleges Staples violated health guidelines which stipulate pests cannot be allowed in any part of a food plant. The inspection found rat excrement pellets on or near 11 different food items, including candies, crackers, creamers, pistachios, ramen noodles, and bottled water. FDA inspectors also found that 23 out of 29 rodent traps along the interior of the warehouse contained one or more dead and decaying rodents, as did a large hole at the base of a wall in the facility. The FDA said rodents gnawed holes, some as big as a passport photo, in individual packages of at least 10 different food products, including peanut butter and cheese sandwich crackers.
The agency said the company failed to protect against pests by leaving doors open and leaving gaps in various walls.
Following the inspection the FDA said that the company voluntarily destroyed contaminated food and fixed six of the roll-up doors that had not been fully closed.
Staples responded to an initial warning letter, delivered at the time of the inspection, on Feb. 21. But the FDA said Staples did not provide any documentation of implemented corrections, such as pest control records. Staples acknowledged in its response, according to the FDA, that there is still evidence rodents in the facility. The FDA asked the company to respond to this new warning letter within 15 business days of receiving it, with a plan to prevent these violations from happening again.
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