State health officials are considering whether to take action against Falley's Food 4 Less after meat damaged in an April 25 fire in Leavenworth was discovered in the company's Lawrence store, 2525 Iowa.
Greg Crawford, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said agency officials launched an investigation when meat embargoed after the Leavenworth fire turned up for sale in the Lawrence supermarket last week.
"We had embargoed the meat in Leavenworth with the understanding that it not be returned to commerce. Apparently, it was then shipped to Lawrence and that was in violation," Crawford said.
Crawford, however, said he did not know how the meat got to Lawrence, and Kent Laughman, president of Falley's Food 4 Less' Midwest Division in Topeka, said that the company did not transport embargoed meat from Leavenworth to sell in Lawrence.
STEVE PAGE, director of the KDHE's Bureau of Environmental Health Services, said health officials concluded that the meat, which was damaged by a combination of water, smoke and soot, should be destroyed.
"We feel that it wasn't of the quality of product that would be put back on the shelf," he said.
Laughman confirmed that a fire in the stock room of the Leavenworth supermarket on April 25 damaged a large quantity of food. He said officials were continuing to investigate the fire, which they believe was arson.
"We voluntarily disposed of, I'd estimate, 10 dump trucks of product that we took out of the (Leavenworth) store," he said, emphasizing that the company did not authorize any of the meat to be taken to other stores.
"OTHER THAN to the dump . . . I can tell you that none of our trucks transported anything anywhere."
Laughman said that early last week the health department then raised questions about meat in the Lawrence store, although Laughman said he wasn't aware that state officials had confirmed that the meat came from Leavenworth. The company voluntarily destroyed that meat as well, he said.
"We destroyed $3,600 of meat (in Lawrence) because they had a question," Laughman said.
Crawford said health department officials used codes on wrappers to detect meat in the Lawrence store that came from the inventory in Leavenworth. Employees of the Lawrence store also were able to help identify meat from Leavenworth, he said.
"They were able to spot and pick out for us which meat had been repackaged," Crawford said.
Crawford said health officials received an anonymous tip that the meat from Leavenworth was in Lawrence. A decision about any health department action arising from the incident could come this week, he said.