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Safeway concerned spoiled dairy may have been distributed

SHERIDAN — Last weekend, Safeway hired someone to take spoiled dairy items to the dump after it was discovered the store’s coolers for liquid dairy had stopped working.

However, the person took the dairy items to The Salvation Army instead, potentially putting anyone who received dairy items from The Salvation Army on Saturday, Sunday or Monday at risk of consuming spoiled goods.

Store Manager Steve Ralston urges anyone who received liquid dairy items — such as milk, coffee creamers, whipping cream, cottage cheese and sour cream — from The Salvation Army or other food banks during that time frame to discard them and not consume them.

Salvation Army Capt. Donald Warriner said food is handed out Monday through Friday, so the amount of people who may have received spoiled dairy items is negligible. The Salvation Army was alerted to the problem on Monday and pulled the items immediately.

“In no way are we trying to hand out bad food to people,” Warriner said. “As soon as they called us, we got rid of it all. If people had it, we took it back from them.”

Warriner said he does not blame Safeway for the incident.

He is concerned, though, that the person who donated the dairy items may have gone to other food charities in town.

“It makes me feel bad that that guy is purposefully giving out bad food to food banks, that he doesn’t do what he was paid to do,” Warriner said.

Warriner said The Salvation Army doesn’t receive a lot of dairy items, so the incident didn’t necessarily short them on critical supplies. However, he said it would be nice to hand out more dairy items to people who need help. He also expressed his appreciation to all the grocery stores in town that donate food on a regular basis.

Products were removed immediately from Safeway’s coolers on Saturday once the problem was discovered, so Safeway customers should not be in danger, Ralston said.

Solid dairy products such as cheese, butter and yogurt were not impacted.

Ralston said it is likely more than 300 products were out of refrigeration for at least 12 hours.

“It was bad,” Ralston said. “For dairy products, every hour they are out of safe temperatures, they lose a day of shelf life. It would have all been bad product.”

Ralston also said the person who was hired — who he wished to leave unnamed — also tried to sell some of the dairy items on Sheridan UpCycle, a Facebook page that serves as a forum to buy and sell items locally.

A customer alerted Safeway to the items being for sale on UpCycle, and Safeway had them removed from the page within 15 minutes, Ralston said. He didn’t think any items had been sold, but he said if anyone did happen to buy dairy products off of UpCycle that they should discard them immediately.

“It’s pretty sad when you hire someone to take something to the dump for you and they give it away instead,” Ralston said.

Ralston said Safeway received a new shipment Tuesday, so all dairy products are fresh and safe now.

Dairy that has been out of refrigeration for too long can cause food poisoning, according to the National Institutes of Health. Symptoms of food poisoning often occur within two to six hours after consumption, although onset can be shorter or longer depending on individual reactions and the type of food consumed.

Symptoms can include abdominal cramps, diarrhea (may be bloody), fever and chill, headache, nausea and vomiting and weakness.

Symptoms should pass in a couple days, according to NIH, but the organization recommends drinking plenty of fluids, getting rest and controlling diarrhea and vomiting. If symptoms do not improve, seek medical help.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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