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US Marshals Seize Chili Products from Rodent-Infested New Mexico Warehouse

An FDA complaint alleges investigators found rodents and animal feces in a New Mexico warehouse.

US Marshals seized chili products from a rodent-infested food warehouse in Derry, New Mexico Monday after FDA investigators discovered violations ranging from live birds to rodent droppings and nesting materials.

The warehouse, owned by Duran and Sons LLC, was used to store chili products such as chili pods, ground chili and crushed chili.

"It was pretty much a shock to me, we'd been cooperating fully with FDA," Duran and Sons LLC owner Carl Duran told CBS News of the seizure, "We've taken steps to correct the problems FDA found." Duran also told CBS News that his chili products were only distrubuted locally in the Derry, New Mexico area.

The seizure came as a result of an FDA inspection of the company's facility in November that revealed "an active and widespread insect and rodent infestation in the food warehouse," according to the complaint.

During that inspection, FDA investigators found rodent nesting material and droppings on and around food, several rodent-gnawed containers of food, and stains indicative of rodent urine. In addition, they saw a live cat, live birds, apparent bird nesting, bird droppings, feces and urine from other animals, live and dead insects, and insect larvae throughout the entire product warehouse.

"The alleged violations at this facility are serious and widespread," Dara A. Corrigan, FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in a press release. "This prompted the FDA to take aggressive enforcement action to protect the health of consumers."

Prior to the seizure, the New Mexico Environment Department had placed an embargo on all products in the Duran and Sons food warehouse on Nov. 17.

As CBS News reported in September, the US food safety system is full of gaps and overlaps. Fifteen federal agencies spend more than $2 billion annually enforcing at least 30 different food safety laws. Food inspections by FDA ---due to lack of resources--- typically occur only once every five years.

Earlier this month the U.S. Senate voted to give the FDA a sweeping overhaul, the most significant change to the FDA since the 1930s.