A fake ketchup factory was discovered in Dover, New Jersey after hundreds of counterfeit bottles marked Simply Heinz exploded.
Tenants of a 7,000 square-foot shared warehouse became suspicious when several bottles from hundreds of crates of supposed Heinz ketchup bottles started to explode. Officials investigated the warehouse and found that the ketchup was fake. They suspect that the owners illegally repackaged the bottles.
The bottles were marked as Simply Heinz, a trademark ketchup product that is made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. It appears that they bought traditional Heinz ketchup and then repackaged the product into the Simply Heinz bottles as it is worth more. A 32 oz bottle of Simply Heinz and a 36 oz bottle of traditional Heinz ketchup are both worth about $2.99, according to ABC. Those behind the illegal operation wanted to make a proft.
However the loot was discovered when the bottles caused a huge mess. The combination of the sugars, the tomato acid and vinegar caused the product to ferment and explode in the heat of the warehouse.
Officials do not believe the counterfeit ketchup bottles made it onto the market.
Heinz was notified about the issue and they're not taking it lightly. They're working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigation on the issue.
"Based on our preliminary investigation, it appears that the unauthorized operation purchased traditional Heinz ketchup and then repackaged the product illegally," Heinz spokeswoman Jessica Jackson said in a statement, according to ABC.
"As a company dedicated to food safety and quality, Heinz will not tolerate illegal repackaging of our products and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who engages in such illicit behavior," Jackson continued. "As the world's leading manufacturer of ketchup, Heinz has stringent manufacturing and packaging practices in place to ensure the safety of consumers. Our quality assurance systems also ensure traceability to the factories where Heinz ketchup is manufactured and packaged."
Rutgers University food science professor Don Schaffner told the Star Ledger that the product could have been potentially dangerous to consumers if it made it to the market.
"If you're opening ketchup containers and pouring ketchup into other bottles, God knows what you're diluting it with ... Ketchup is thick, so it's possible you would not use a food-grade ingredient to replicate that texture. I can't begin to imagine how bad it could be," he said.