Pet Food Ingredient Suppliers Fined Millions for Distributing Mislabeled Ingredients
The United States District Court in St. Louis sentenced two companies—Wilbur-Ellis Co. and Diversified Ingredients—to pay combined fine of $7 million for shipping adulterated and misbranded pet food ingredients to pet food manufacturers.
The Feed Division of Wilbur-Ellis, a limited liability company with headquarters in San Francisco, marketed and distributed products and ingredients for use in the pet food industry, including animal proteins used in the manufacture of dog food and cat food. In April the company pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.
Diversified Ingredients, Inc., a corporation with headquarters in Ballwin, Missouri, is a commodities broker, merchandiser, and distributor whose customers included a number of pet food companies and manufacturers. In July, the company pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce and one misdemeanor count of introducing misbranded food into interstate commerce.
In connection with the guilty pleas, the court was advised that pet food ingredients shipped from a Wilbur-Ellis facility in Rosser, Texas—specifically, chicken meal and turkey meal—were adulterated and misbranded through the use of cheaper substitute ingredients, such as feather meal and feed grade chicken bone byproduct meal, and adulterated and misbranded by omitting premium ingredients, such as turkey meal, from products identified as turkey meal.
“The FDA recognizes the importance of preserving the integrity of the food supply for animals,” said Charles Grinstead, special agent in charge of FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Kansas City Field Office. “Substituting inferior ingredients in pet food is against the law, and the FDA, working with its federal and state partners, will take action as necessary to hold ingredient suppliers accountable for distributing such products.”
Wilbur-Ellis Company was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $4,549,682 in restitution, criminal forfeiture in the form of a money judgment in the amount of $964,442 and a fine of $1,000. Diversified Ingredients was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution, criminal forfeiture in the form of a money judgment in an amount of $75,000, and a fine of $2,000.
The adulterated pet food ingredients did not pose a threat to the health or safety of any animal, according to federal prosecutors.