A grocery store in Northwest Arkansas was ordered Thursday to stop distributing certain goods, including food and drug products, until the company cleans up its business, according to court records.
Western District of Arkansas Judge P.K. Holmes III entered the consent decree of condemnation and permanent injunction in the case between the United States and J and L Grocery in Alma, a news release by the U.S Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and the Food and Drug Administration states.
Under the ruling, the company is forbidden from resuming business until it creates and begins a “comprehensive written sanitation control program” and gets written permission to continue from the FDA, according to the statement.
During a 34-day Food and Drug Administration inspection of the grocery store and warehouses in 2018, investigators found “multiple live and dead rodents, rodent nesting, live raccoons, live cats, a dead possum, animal feces, and urine-stained products,” according to a previous statement issued by the FDA.
The U.S. Marshals Service in November conducted raids of J and L Grocery, seizing tainted food items, over-the-counter drugs, cosmetics, medical devices and pet food, the statement read.
In court documents filed in answer to the FDA’s complaints, attorneys for the grocery store denied the goods were held under unsanitary conditions.
On Thursday, however, the judge ordered the company to destroy the seized products.
Dr. Ned Sharpless, FDA acting commissioner, said distributors like J and L Grocery have a “critical responsibility” to ensure products are kept safe.
“When adulterated products make their way into the U.S. marketplace, it places consumers at risk,” Sharpless said.
J and L attorney J. Dalton Person said in a January interview that the business, which described itself as a “discount” grocery store, served community members living on fixed incomes.
“It really provides a service to the community,” the attorney said. “I’ve been hearing from people either on social media on their accounts, or out in public, who are on fixed income and rely on the grocery store.”
J and L closed all operations at their retail and wholesale sites following the inspection and seizures, according to Person, but Facebook posts by the business showed they reopened in December.
In a later post, however, J and L announced plans to close June 30.
“We are sorry and would like to say thank you to everyone that has supported us,” the grocer wrote in the June 14 post. The post stated that the business would close once the owners signed a consent decree with the FDA.
The owners wrote that they felt “in our hearts that it’s time to move on to new adventures and spend some much needed time together.”