October 11, 2018: Two Companies Ordered to Pay More Than $7 Million for Adulterated and Misbranded Pet Food Ingredients
ST. LOUIS, MO – Two companies were sentenced in federal court today relating to their introduction of adulterated and misbranded pet food ingredients into interstate commerce.
Wilbur-Ellis Company is a California limited liability company with headquarters in San Francisco, California. The Feed Division of Wilbur-Ellis 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. Diversified Ingredients, Inc., a Missouri corporation with headquarters in Ballwin, Missouri, is a commodities broker, merchandiser, and distributor whose customers included a number of pet food companies and manufacturers.
“The FDA recognizes the importance of preserving the integrity of the food supply for animals,” said Charles Grinstead, Special Agent in Charge, 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 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker 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.
On April 25, 2018, Wilbur-Ellis Company pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. On July 10, 2018, Diversified Ingredients 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 by-product meal, and adulterated and misbranded by omitting premium ingredients, such as turkey meal, from products identified as turkey meal. The adulterated pet food ingredients did not pose a threat to the health or safety of any animal.
Because the defendants are organizations, they were subject to a fine and a period of probation for their offense. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles Birmingham, Gil Sison, and Kyle Bateman, Special Attorneys to the United States Attorney General, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the government.