HomeHealthMichigan Warns of Products Possibly Contaminated with Human Waste

Michigan Warns of Products Possibly Contaminated with Human Waste

Michigan officials are urging residents to dispose of vegetables grown on a farm in the town of Homer, saying produce sold by grocers in more than a dozen cities across the state is potentially contaminated with human waste.

A routine security inspection found that Kuntry Gardens was using “raw, untreated human waste from fields where produce was grown for sale to local grocers and direct sale,” the Department of Agriculture and Development said Monday. Rural Michigan (MDARD) in a advisory to customers

According to the agency, the use of human waste to grow crops intended for human consumption is illegal and unsafe. If not treated professionally, human waste and other bodily fluids can spread dangerous diseases such as hepatitis A, clostridium difficile, e-coli, rotavirus and norovirus, MDARD added.

No illnesses have been reported yet, but MDARD urged anyone with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, fever, abdominal cramps, headache or other symptoms of foodborne illness to seek medical attention.

Andy Stutzman, owner of Kuntry Gardens, apologized for what happened, saying he never intended to use human waste as fertilizer.

Closed until next spring

“They just dumped it instead of the proper procedure, in a five foot by five foot area on the field,” Stutzman told CBS MoneyWatch. “Because of this location, they concluded that it could have spread to the rest of the farm,” said Stutzman, who acknowledges his error and expresses frustration that the state had not tested the soil.

“We were going through an inspection, I was trying to be honest. I told them flat out what happened. It was our fault,” Stutzman said of the inspection, which he said took place in March or April.

“We all care about food safety. We don’t want to put anything out there that isn’t safe,” said Stutzman, who will close his business for the rest of the year, with plans to test the soil and reopen next spring. “That’s our livelihood,” Stutzman said of the farm he’s run since 2009.

Products bearing the Kuntry Gardens label were sold by at least 10 retailers in locations in at least 19 Michigan cities, and may have been distributed in additional locations. Product was sold by retailers in Ann Arbor, Brighton, Canton, Chelsea, Clinton, Dexter, Farmington Hills, Homer, Livonia, Novi, Pinckney, Plymounth-Northville, Rochester Hills, Saline, South Lyon, Tecumseh, Traverse City, West Bloomfield and Ypsilanti.

One grocery store, Busch’s Fresh Food Market, issued a recall for the Kuntry Gardens products it sells, saying it would offer refunds for any Kuntry Gardens products purchased since Aug. 1, according to a Detroit Free Press. That includes green beans, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, bell peppers, squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes, according to the Ann Arbor-based grocer, which operates 16 stores in Michigan.

Another business said it is cutting ties with Kuntry Gardens.

“Today we received word that one of the farms we used to buy produce from has contaminated the fields,” White Lotus Farms of Ann Arbor wrote in social networks. “We will no longer be doing business with them, but we want to let you know right away. If you recently purchased zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, or green peppers, throw them out and request a refund on your next visit.”

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