State inspects store at center of ‘On Your Side' defrosted food investigation

The State is now looking into allegations that a local grocery store put defrosted items back up for sale following power outages caused by Hurricane Irma.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- “I took a couple of pictures and then started videoing,” Lindsey Reed said as she shared with First Coast News cellphone video she took inside the Jacksonville Save-A-Lot grocery store on Lem Turner Road Wednesday afternoon.

What prompted her to document what she was seeing was concern that store employees were putting defrosted food, including meat and dairy products, back onto store shelves.

“I was like ‘what are you all doing, are you putting this food back in here for people to buy after its already thawed out?’” Reed said she asked an employee. The worker allegedly responded: “some of it.”

First Coast News notified the Florida Department of Agriculture about Reed’s video. The state agency sent inspectors to the store Thursday afternoon.

Their inspection report, seen below, found the store placed all their food in a refrigerated truck during the storm and the only food lost was ice cream which was disposed of in a dumpster.

However, Reed says she watched employees moving cartons of ice cream off a pallet and into the freezer and they didn’t stop until she started filming them.

“He starts throwing stuff down after I called him out on it,” Reed said while showing First Coast News the video she took.

Reed says she lifted the lid off one of the ice cream containers from the freezer and it was all thawed out and not frozen. “It was literally like a foam or a mousse when I opened it,” she said.

The state inspectors found no issues present during their visit.

However, Chon Tomlin, a corporate spokesperson for Save-A-Lot, told First Coast News, “Someone at the store made a poor decision. It is not our company policy to ever try to salvage products after a disaster. The employees involved are being coached.”

Watch Original Investigation Here: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/investigations/on-your-side-after-irma/investigation-defrosted-food-put-back-on-store-shelves/475016941

Reed says she was contacted by Save-A-Lot after her story aired on FCN and she met with a regional Vice President for the company Friday afternoon who promised her that “major changes are being made.”

The Florida Department of Agriculture provided the following resources for how food should be handled in an emergency situation such as a hurricane:

http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/65472/1567571/DamagedFoodGuide.pdf

http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/71017/1640413/EMERGENCY_GUIDE_FOR_OPERATORS_DURING_EMERGENCY_EVENTS.PDF

Save-A-Lot grocery store inspection report September 2017 by First Coast News on Scribd

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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