Federal agents seized tens of thousands of dollars in food from a warehouse where rodents, insects and birds had infested everything from pasta to cookies to spices, authorities announced.
The action by the U.S. Marshals Service last week at Professional Warehouse and Distribution follows several federal inspections at the warehouse northwest of the intersection of University and Cleveland avenues.
In the most recent inspection, in late May, agents turned up among the food "rodent infestation, live and dead insects and live birds," said Peter Cassell, a spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The contaminated food, valued at $73,000, is now under government control. Federal authorities have filed a civil action in pursuit of having the food destroyed, noting the discovery of dead rodents and rodent feces and urine among the food.
"The storage conditions in the warehouse were simply unacceptable," Melinda Plaisier, an FDA associate commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, said, "and the FDA took action to protect Americans."
The agency said no illnesses have been traced back to the infested food. The FDA listed the food affected as barley flour, cookies, dried beans, pasta, spices and tea.
Marc Gunia, a co-owner and founder of the warehouse, acknowledged the unsanitary conditions and said, "We do have a pest control service that monitors things here. We did the proper cleaning, and everything is back to normal."
Gunia said his warehouse, which has roughly 80,000 square feet of storage, is "no longer going to handle food consumed by humans."
He said "food is just a small component" of what the warehouse stores.
Two inspections in 2015 and another in May of this year all turned up unsanitary conditions, according to the FDA, despite operators' pledges to clean things up.
Gunia said a portion of the contaminated food is owned by other businesses and some of it arrived at his warehouse already infested by insects.