Woman coughs on food, Grocery store throws out $35000 worth.
Gerrity’s Supermarket in Hanover Twp. lost thousands of dollars in product on Wednesday in what’s hoped to be only a prank.
Co-owner Joe Fasula took to Gerrity’s Facebook page Wednesday night and detailed an incident that affected multiple areas of the grocery store. According to Fasula, a woman entered the store and intentionally coughed around the produce section, the meat case, a section of the bakery and another part of the store.
Gerrity’s responded by working with a health inspector to identify via video surveillance every area the woman approached, throw out each item she contacted and clean and disinfect the store, Fasula said in a phone interview Wednesday night. He had not yet seen the video for himself but had information relayed to him by the store manager on the scene.
“You can see her. She comes in the door,” Fasula said in a phone interview. “She coughs in her hand, smiles, looks around, walks right over and bends into the produce case and coughs.”
“Obviously, when I got the news, I was literally speechless,” he continued. “I felt bad because the manager called me in a panic and said, ‘What do I do?’ I stood there stunned for a moment trying to come up with a response, because what do you do?”
A total loss had not been quantified in the ensuing hours, but it was approximated to exceed $35,000. Fasula wrote on Facebook that Gerrity’s is checking if it is covered by insurance, though its rate “will surely go up next year” regardless. He added in the post that he was sick to his stomach about the loss of food and that the incident is especially disturbing “in these times when so many are worried about the security of our food supply.”
Fasula went on to write that police were contacted immediately and, while he believes the incident was “a very twisted prank” and the woman is not infected, authorities “will make every effort to see that she is tested.”
No matter the explanation, Fasula said he hopes the woman faces consequences.
“I think that they need to prosecute her to the fullest extent of the law. People need to understand that actions like this have consequences,” Fasula said.
Wednesday’s incident occurred while Fasula was already taking extra measures to assure the safety of his staff and customers during the coronavirus pandemic. He said he was working with his advertising team to create new signs and floor decals that encourage social distancing efforts while shopping inside Gerrity’s.
Instead, Fasula was suddenly helping other employees — including some who stayed late or came in on their day off — to resolve the unexpected incident.
“We are so lucky,” Fasula said of his team. “They’re like a family to us, and they just keep stepping up.”
Within three hours of the Facebook post, Gerrity’s had received more than 5,600 reactions and 2,800 comments from users.