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Queens Chronicle

Kosher food with a side of rat droppings

Ridgewood food distributor found infested with rodents and insects

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:32 am, Thu Apr 25, 2013.

Approximately $1 million worth of food products were removed from V.I.P Foods, Inc., a producer of popular kosher goods, on Friday in relation to a widespread rodent infestation.

V.I.P., based in Ridgewood, is a manufacturer of various formulated dried mixes and bases such as blueberry muffin mix, pancake mix and flavored mashed potatoes. The company’s products are distributed to supermarkets such as Key Food, Foodtown and Wegmans and goes under many names including, VIP Foods and KoJel.

In addition to rodent infestation, the investigation conducted by the Food and Drug Administration revealed issues with the building structure that provided entry for insects.

“VIP’s warehouse was a picnic ground for rodents, and the company failed utterly in its obligation to provide food deemed safe for human consumption,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch, said. “Those who store, package and sell the food we serve our families have a responsibility to maintain basic standards of cleanliness in their facilities.”

Allegedly, FDA inspectors observed live and dead rats, rodent-gnawed containers of food, rodent nests within pallets of food and packaging materials, rodent excreta “pellets too numerous to count” scattered throughout the premises, and rodent urine stains on and around food products and food-product packaging.

The FDA has issued a number of violations against the manufacturer, Lynch’s office said. In 2009, V.I.P. was cited for “failure to store raw materials in a manner that protects against contamination.” The company was also accused of labeling hot chocolate mix as “sugar free” despite the nutritional facts label showing that each serving contained seven grams of sugar.

The lawsuit filed against the company seeks forfeiture and condemnation of the adulterated food products. V.I.P. could not immediately be reached for comment.

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