Virginia food inspectors have accused Dart Drug Corp. of selling insect-and rodent-contaminateed candy and cookies at two Fairfax City stores.
Criminal warrants filed with the Fairfax County prosecutor's office charge the Landover-based company with two counts of selling "food adulterated with insect filth, insect larvae, moth fragments and rodent hairs."
The charges, rarely invoked by state officials, are misdemeanors. Each one carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and 12 months in jail.
Officials of the State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said two other Dart Drug stores, both with Vienna addresses, are under The officials said they had filed a similiar criminal charge against Dart over food sales at one of the chain's Richmond stores.
Such cases rarely go to prosecution, according to Arthur D. Dell'Aria, an assistant supervisor in the state's food inspection section. The office's 21 inspectors made 5,661 visits to state food processing companies, warehouses and retail stores last year, and in only eight instances did the state decide to prosecute, he said.
Dart vice president Richard B. Kabat declined to comment on the Fairfax charges, set for trial June 10 in Fairfax city General District Court.
Dell'Aria said that when an inspector finds food contamination, the state doesn't rush to prosecution. "We have a voluntary complaince program, and the company gets a number of opportunities to straighten the problem out."
Only one of the 21 state food inspecotrs is assigned to Fairfax, and that inspector also must cover Arlington. The inspectors have jurisdiction over all firms that manufacture food, store it or sell it, except restaurants, which are covered by the State Health Department.
State officials would reveal few details about the Dart Drug case because it is going to court. But one official, who did not want to be named, said: "It puzzles me why they [Dart Drug] let it slide. They came across as being sincere in wanting to comply. But it just didn't work out that way."