A warehouse in Dover, N.J. was discovered to have hundreds of crates purported to be Heinz ketchup, which officials said may have been repackaged to sell for a profit.
Other tenants who rent the space in a 7,000-square-foot warehouse noticed that bottles of ketchup were exploding.
Heinz said fake ketchup bottles were labeled as Heinz's "Simply Heinz," its premium brand that uses sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, which is found in its traditional version.
A 32 oz. bottle of "Simply Heinz Ketchup" and a 36 oz. bottle of Heinz Ketchup each have a suggested retail price of $2.99.
Dover Public Safety Director Richard Rosell told the Star-Ledger newspaper in New Jersey that the ketchup's sugars, mixed with acid from tomatoes and vinegar, had fermented in the heat and exploded. Tenants noticed the mess and city officials and Heinz were eventually contacted.
Jessica Jackson, a spokeswoman for Heinz North America, said the company "has not discovered any information that leads us to believe that the illegally repackaged product is on the market."
"Based on our preliminary investigation, it appears that the unauthorized operation purchased traditional Heinz ketchup and then repackaged the product illegally," Jackson said in a statement.
"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 said. "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."
The space was leased by Wholesome Foods, LLC, which could not be reached for comment.