U.S. Marshals, acting under a court order sought by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, today seized chili pods, ground chili, crushed chili, and other chili products located in the rodent-infested food warehouse owned by Duran and Sons LLC in Derry, New Mexico. The New Mexico Environment Department had previously placed an embargo on all products in the company’s food warehouse on Nov. 17, 2010.

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico issued a warrant for the seizure of all FDA-regulated food in the warehouse. The federal government’s complaint alleges that the products are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because they have been held under insanitary conditions and may have become contaminated with filth.

An FDA inspection of the company’s facility between Nov. 15 and 22, 2010, revealed “an active and widespread insect and rodent infestation in the food warehouse,” according to the complaint.

"The alleged violations at this facility are serious and widespread,” said Dara A. Corrigan, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “This prompted the FDA to take aggressive enforcement action to protect the health of consumers.”

FDA investigators found rodent nesting material and dropping on and around food, several rodent gnawed containers of food, and stains indicative of rodent urine. In addition, they saw a live cat, live birds, apparent bird nesting, bird droppings, feces and urine from other animals, live and dead insects, and insect larvae throughout the entire product warehouse. FDA laboratory analysis of samples collected during the inspection confirmed the investigators’ observations.