- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Pennsylvania supermarket chain said Wednesday it was forced to throw away $35,000 worth of food after a woman coughed on grocery items as a “very twisted prank” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hanover Township police said in a statement that a woman “intentionally contaminated” the food at the local Gerrity’s supermarket and that she was undergoing mental health treatment while awaiting criminal charges.

Joe Fasula, co-owner of Gerrity’s, which has nine locations across northeastern Pennsylvania, posted about the incident on Facebook, saying he is “absolutely sick” to his stomach about the loss of food, though he doesn’t think the woman was actually infected with COVID-19.

“While there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and well-being of our customers,” Mr. Fasula wrote. “We had no choice but to throw out all product she came in contact with. 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.

“Although we have not yet quantified the total loss, we estimate the value to be well over $35,000,” he continued. “We are checking to see if our insurance company will cover it, but even if they do, our rates will surely go up next year. I am also absolutely sick to my stomach about the loss of food. 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.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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