Grocery carts heaped with ham, eggs, milk and butter — a feast for hundreds — sit clustered around a Walmart dumpster in the sun. A bearded man in sunglasses explains that the food is all good, but Walmart is throwing it out anyway.
"That's what's **** up with our country," he says. "They don't let employees have it. They won't sell it to anybody else. They're throwing it away."
Viewers have sent this video to News 5 dozens of times in the last week, and it seems worthy of outrage at a glance. Anyone would be upset to see good food wasted.
So why haven't you seen it on our channel?
Easy: It's not what it appears to be.
Let's break it down.
The caption places it in "Salina," but it actually took place in Celina, Ohio, Nov. 6. All that food was thrown away, but it wasn't safe to eat as uploader Gary Joe Ahrns claimed.
Mercer County, of which Celina is the county seat, experienced an EF2 tornado the day before Ahrns posted his video. The storm knocked out power for 1,000 Midwest Electric customers in the area, including the Celina Walmart.
Unrefrigerated milk can spoil in as little as two hours. Butter is better at resisting contamination when left out, but any dairy product can be a comfortable homestead for bacteria when stored incorrectly. Ham, like milk, has about a two-hour lifespan out of the fridge.
After more than half a day without power, none of the discarded food was edible according to store standards. Walmart wrote on Facebook :
"Unfortunately, due to a tornado that affected our store in Celina, Ohio on November 5, the food being disposed of was unsafe for consumption after the store lost power for 14 hours. Per internal and health department policies, we followed proper procedures by disposing of the food."
We know, we know -- maybe you've left something out longer than recommended and been okay, but that was a decision you made for yourself. If the store were to knowingly sell spoiled food -- or food at a high risk of spoilage -- to customers who later became sick, it would be on the hook for a whole buffet of lawsuits.