Today, Eater again wades into the lively world of rodent infestations. Jeff Babcock, founder and managing partner of award-winning coffee roaster Zoka, informed Eater that the FDA acted "in bad faith" when it sent out a warning letter regarding the facility's rodent infestation. Here's an excerpt from a letter Babcock sent out to the community after allegations surfaced of excessive rat poo on the premises:
"You should know that we addressed the issue as soon as we saw evidence of a mouse and that we have been in full compliance with the FDA throughout the process. The sad part of this entire situation is that the FDA has not provided accurate information in return."
Both Babcock and Patrick Mazzuca, Zoka's General Manager, suggested that Eater confirm their compliance with the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). Hence, we asked Claudia Coles, a food safety manager with the agency, to clarify its role and Zoka's status. Coles characterized the FDA warning letter to Zoka as "a routine action". She explained that Zoka has been working with the WSDA since May 2011 and found that the violations noted in April 2011 have now all been fixed. She did acknowledge that it remains an open question whether the roaster has "clearly communicated all of their changes to the FDA?"
Eater has not yet heard back from the FDA to determine whether Zoka has been keeping the federal agency as well informed as the WSDA. Note to Zoka: this whole "it was all a mistake" approach doesn't work if, say, the IRS comes calling.