LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. – A grocery store in northeastern Pennsylvania says it had to throw out about $35,000 worth of food after a woman purposefully coughed on its fresh produce, bakery products and meat case.
A co-owner of Gerrity’s Supermarket, Joe Fasula, wrote in a statement that the incident happened Wednesday afternoon at a store in Hanover Township.
According to Fasula, the woman is known by police to be a chronic problem and there’s little doubt that she did it as a “very twisted prank.” Still he says the store didn’t want to take any chances with the health and well-being of its customers.
“Working closely with the Hanover Township health inspector, we identified every area that she was in, we disposed of the product and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected everything,” wrote Fasula.
Fasula says the police were called immediately after the incident and the case has been escalated to the area’s district attorney’s office.
“They have assured me that they will be aggressively pursuing numerous charges,” said Fasula. “In addition, while we do not believe the woman is truly infected, they will make every effort to see that she is tested.”
The grocery chain is checking with its insurance company to see if they’ll be covered for the loss, but if they do, the owners are worried that its rates will go up.
The woman’s actions come at a time when Americans are being cautious in an attempt to not contact or spread COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. As people stock up on food so they can practice social distancing, the country’s store have been struggling to keep shelves stocked.
“While it is always a shame when food is wasted, in these times when so many people are worried about the security of our food supply, it is even more disturbing,” wrote Fasula.