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FreshCo implements sanitization changes after viral video, TPH investigation

Last Updated Jul 17, 2020 at 2:46 pm EDT

Grocery chain FreshCo says all store cleaning and sanitization is now being done by their in-house team, after a third-party service provider was seen spitting on a rag to clean grocery baskets in a viral video last week.

In a story brought to you first by CityNews, a local resident captured the incident on video on July 5 at the store’s location on Bathurst and Nassau streets.

“I couldn’t believe that. I was in shock…I feel sick,” said Marta Alessandra Casimiro, at the time, adding that her concerns were dismissed by the franchise manager when she complained.

Sobeys, FreshCo’s parent company, strongly condemned the cleaner’s behaviour and said he was from a third-party provider and was suspended immediately.

CityNews reached out to Sobeys again to find out what changes had been implemented following the incident.

Sobeys says the third-party cleaning service was only “supporting a handful of FreshCo stores in Ontario. They were not used at any of our other banner stores.”

“Since this incident we have removed the supplier from this service and have taken over the daily cleaning and sanitation protocols in our FreshCo locations,” says Natasha Compton, Director of external communications, in a statement. “All of our teammates have been trained and are executing this cleaning with the same rigour as we have since the pandemic began.”

The store’s franchise manager, identified only as Alex, also provided a statement expressing his disappointment with the video and reconfirming that cleaning is now being handled in-store “to meet our very high standards.”

“I regret any concern this has caused. We are taking this very seriously. Keeping our store safe for our valued customers is our top priority,” he said.

The incident also sparked a probe by Toronto Public Health (TPH) and they tell CityNews a health inspector conducted the investigation on July 11.

They contacted the third-party company by phone and say the company was aware of the incident and “took appropriate steps including suspending the staff in the video, developing new cleaning and sanitizing protocols and training for staff.”

TPH says the franchise manager informed them that enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols were implemented and a copy of the new protocols was provided to the public health inspector who was investigating.

“No further action is required from Toronto Public Health,” they said.

Neither Sobeys nor Toronto Public Health would provide the details of the third-party service provider. It is unclear which other grocery chains they service.