HOLY RAT “URP” BAT MAN! NYC SHUTS DOWN KOJEL FOR HEALTH REASONS

FROM THE NY TIMES

Food and Drink April 12, 2013, 6:24 pm Comment
Kosher Food Maker’s Inventory Seized Over Rodent Infestation
By LUKE HAMMILL
V.I.P. Foods, whose Queens headquarters were infested with rodents, according to federal authorities, sells its products under several brands, including KoJel.Screengrab from V.I.P. Foods Web site. V.I.P. Foods, whose Queens headquarters were infested with rodents, according to federal authorities, sells its products under several brands, including KoJel.

Fans of KoJel kosher foods like instant pudding, hot chocolate mix and instant noodle soup, brace yourselves: V.I.P. Foods, the Queens food supplier that manufactures the products, had about $1 million in inventory seized by the federal Food and Drug Administration because of “widespread rodent infestation,” federal prosecutors said on Friday.

The F.D.A. seized the foodstuffs from V.I.P.’s Ridgewood, Queens, headquarters on March 19, after inspectors visited on multiple occasions between October and February, according to a complaint filed last month in federal court.

On Oct. 25, inspectors “observed over 1,200 rodent excreta pellets, at least 4 live and dead mice, and rodent-gnawed containers of food,” as well as rodent urine stains on and around foodstuffs, the complaint says.

After receiving notice of the violations, V.I.P. told the F.D.A. that the problems were fixed, but when inspectors returned in February, they found the same problems, the complaint states.

V.I.P., which also makes muffin mix, dessert gel and flavored mashed potatoes, was cited for spilled food and for having substantial gaps at the doors of its loading bay and insufficiently screened windows, which could have served as potential entryways for insects and rodents.

“V.I.P.’s warehouse was a picnic ground for rodents, and the company failed utterly in its obligation to provide food deemed safe for human consumption,” Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

V.I.P. Foods headquarters closes at 1 p.m. on Fridays, and a call placed late Friday afternoon was not returned.

V.I.P. was founded in 1983 and initially supplied the health care, catering and restaurant industries, according to the company’s Web site. It merged with KoJel in the mid-1980s and expanded into grocery stores across the country.

Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture and condemnation of the seized products.

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Check your cupboards. A trip to the supermarket to return goods might be in store!

Posted on April 19, 2013 at 12:04 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink
In: General Topics, Health, Kosher Alert, Kosher News, Uncategorized

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