Two companies were sentenced in federal court earlier this month and ordered to pay a combined total of more than $7 million for introducing adulterated and misbranded pet food ingredients into interstate commerce.
Wilbur-Ellis Company is a California LLC that markets and distributes products and ingredients for use in the pet food industry, including animal proteins used in the manufacture of dog food and cat food. On April 25, 2018, Wilbur-Ellis Company pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. The 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, Inc., is a Missouri-based commodities broker, merchandiser, and distributor whose customers include a number of pet food companies and manufacturers. 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. The company 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 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.”
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 defendants. 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.