FDA Seizes Products Being Held In Unsanitary Conditions At Alma Grocery Warehouse

ALMA, Ark. (KFSM) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Friday (Nov. 9) that the U.S. Marshals Service conducted a mass seizure of FDA-regulated products that were being held under insanitary conditions that were exposed to rodent, insect and live animal infestation.

The seizure happened on November 7 and 8 at J & L Grocery at 4810 US-71 in Alma, Arkansas  

J & L Grocery receives, salvages, warehouses and distributes various products. The products seized included human and animal food products, over the counter drugs, cosmetic products, and medical devices. The FDA reports several of the over the counter drugs were also past their expiration dates.

The complaint was filed by the U.S Department of Justice on behalf of the FDA in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.

“The widespread insanitary conditions found at J & L Grocery is alarming and won’t be tolerated,” said the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “At this time, we’re unaware of adverse events associated with the use of products purchased at J & L Grocery. The work of our field force and the goals of our vigorous oversight efforts are to find these kinds of potential hazards and intervene before consumers are harmed. We’re committed to that mission. Our consumer protection role is the bedrock of the FDA’s culture. We’ll continue to take action against adulterated products as necessary to protect the public health and the safety of Americans.”

An inspection of J & L Grocery, that the FDA conducted in September and October 2018, revealed the dirty conditions including multiple live and dead rodents, rodent nesting, live raccoons, live cats, a dead possum, animal feces, and urine-stained products in and around the company's several warehouse and sheds used to store food, medical products and cosmetics, according to the complaint by the FDA.

Two Administrative Detention Orders were issued to J & L Grocery, dated October 9 and 19, 2018. The orders call for the detention of all human and animal food products in plastic, paper or cardboard packaging and drugs, respectively, following what the FDA witnessed.

The FDA serves to protect the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The FDA is also responsible for the safety and security of the U.S.'s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

J & L Grocery, LLC offered the following statement about the FDA's findings to 5NEWS.

“J & L Grocery has been a valuable member of the local community for years, serving the needs of many by offering discount groceries to those who are unable to afford shopping elsewhere.  It is unfortunate that the federal government decided to send nine FDA inspectors to Alma, Arkansas for a 34-day long inspection of J & L Grocery, and has now instituted legal proceedings to seize more than $800,000 worth of goods.  The recent outpouring of support from J & L Grocery’s many customers has been reassuring, and we look forward to our day in court.”