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Harris Teeter emphasizes food safety after feces incident in Charleston store

Several departments of a Harris Teeter store in Charleston were sanitized and reopened Monday after a disgruntled former employee on Sunday sprayed what is believed to be feces on fresh produce.
Several departments of a Harris Teeter store in Charleston were sanitized and reopened Monday after a disgruntled former employee on Sunday sprayed what is believed to be feces on fresh produce. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Several departments of a Harris Teeter store in Charleston reopened Monday, after officials say a disgruntled former employee on Sunday sprayed what is believed to be feces on fresh produce.

This is the first time the Matthews-based grocer has experienced such an incident, spokeswoman Danna Robinson told the Observer. Officials in Charleston said the contaminant was feces, she said, although that will be confirmed through test results.

Charleston police described the substance as a “brown liquid,” the Post & Courier reported. Pau S. Hang, 41, was arrested and charged with damage to personal property and trespassing after notice, the newspaper reported.

“Our associates are highly trained to properly assess and handle crisis situations – even ones like this,” Robinson said. “Food safety and quality are paramount to Harris Teeter.”

Employees at the St. Andrews Shopping Center store immediately closed down the produce and fresh foods departments, discarded the products exposed to contamination and cleaned and sanitized affected areas, Robinson said.

On Monday afternoon, the Charleston County Health Department confirmed that the company took “appropriate action” in response to the incident, Robinson said.

“Affected areas of the store have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and the local and state regulators have given us permission to re-open our departments. Our teams are in the process of re-stocking,” she added.

Harris Teeter is Charlotte’s No. 1 grocery chain by market share, according to Chain Store Guide, a sales-tracking firm. The chain first opened as a Harris Super Market in 1936 on Central Avenue. Grocery giant Kroger purchased the company in early 2014.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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