Feds Remove Food from Rodent-Infested Warehouse
Federal authorities seized food from a Streamwood warehouse Monday after investigators found a "widespread and active rodent infestation" inside the building, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Criminal investigators with the Food and Drug Administration also executed a search warrant Monday at the Chetak Chicago LLC facility, signaling a criminal probe of the conditions at the suburban location.
The developments come after the FDA found 25 live and 12 dead rodents at the warehouse between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1, authorities said. FDA investigators also spotted birds inside the 108,000-square-foot building as well as gnawed and urine-stained food packages, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Investigators also found rodents' nesting materials inside the building. Gaps in the doors and the foundation allowed animals to enter, prosecutors said.
FDA investigators returned to the building twice in late September, but the problems had not been fixed, authorities said.
The discoveries prompted federal prosecutors to file a lawsuit alleging that all food inside the building can be seized unless stored in a freezer or in glass or metal containers. A federal judge signed a warrant allowing deputy U.S. marshals to seize the food.
The facility, located at 1111 E. Lake St. in the northwest suburb, stores food including rice, flour, shelled peanuts, cookies, dried coconut and spices, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Chetak receives the food from India and throughout the United States and sells it to restaurants and retailers in about 20 states and Canada, officials said.
No food has been shipped from the building since Aug. 17, when the Illinois Department of Public Health imposed an embargo on the facility, officials said.
The U.S. attorney's office said "there are no known immediate public health risks posed by the seized food" and that no illnesses have been traced to the food.
Officials with Chetak could not be reached for comment.
Source = Associated Press
General Manager - Staff Entomologist