King of Pops, a frozen ice pop maker with several locations in the South, has closed its North Charleston facility following an unannounced inspection and warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA published a warning Aug. 3 detailing issues found during inspections conducted June 12-14. The inspectors found more than 100 rodent pellets inside the facility, located at 4845 Chateau Avenue in North Charleston, and concluded the food produced at the facility should be considered "adulterated."
Steven Carse, the company's founder, said this is the first issue the company has had with the FDA.
"We've been racking our brains to figure out how this could have happened," he said in a statement posted to the company's Facebook on Friday. "In retrospect, we've realized that our North Charleston production facility did not get the proper attention."
Inspectors detailed rodent pellets, standing water, poor sanitation and inadequate staff training on hand-washing and gloves. The letter shows the facility was in poor condition; there were gaps that could allow pests to enter and poor drainage, for example.
In response to the FDA's inspection, King of Pops made a series of changes. The Aug. 3 letter from the FDA states the company did not provide adequate evidence that the changes they put in place were sufficient to correct the problems.
Carse said in the statement the North Charleston facility produces about 4 percent of the company's popsicles. He also said King of Pops will continue selling the ice pops at its various locations in Charleston using supply from its other facilities.
He would not comment on whether the company was aware of the pests before the FDA inspected the facility. North Charleston is one of four cities where King of Pops produces its ice pops. Carse said the Department of Health and Environmental Control conducts monthly tests, none of which have resulted in a citation. DHEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.
Carse, who is based in Atlanta, said the company will reopen the North Charleston facility once it receives the green light from the FDA.