FDA seeks to shut down Jeppi Nut for violations

Unsanitary conditions noted at food facility

February 13, 2003|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking to halt the Jeppi Nut Co. -- a Baltimore institution -- from processing food at its facilities until it corrects numerous violations including rodent and insect contamination.

Officials with the FDA filed a complaint for a permanent injunction in federal court Feb. 5 against the SCT Corp., which operates as the Jeppi Nut Co. The complaint, which also names Jeppi President Theodore Pavlos, alleges that the company repeatedly ignored FDA warnings to correct problems.

"The products were enough of a concern to us that we wanted to be sure they were not on the marketplace," said FDA spokesman Brad Stone.

"The FDA does not file injunctions against food companies" very often, Stone added. "The fact that we took this step indicates that we thought it was a significant problem."

Listed in the complaint is Jeppi's main location, 312 N. High St., as well as 808 Low St., a storage facility, and a temporary warehouse at 418 N. Colvin St.

An FDA warning letter dated March 21, 2001, informed the company of 12 examples of unsanitary conditions, including live and dead rodents, gnawed bags of food and signs of rodent nesting.

The High Street facility is more than 100 years old, said Pavlos, Jeppi's president. As a result, he said, it is not economically feasible to make the changes to the building.

"We feel like primarily our problems are with the facility and not with the way we conduct our business," Pavlos said.

He said the company has been planning to move for more than a year but only identified a suitable location in December. The plan is to move to a building in Timonium on March 1.

Pavlos said the company is still operating and invited anyone to inspect it.

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