Michigan farm owner says human waste contamination was ‘oversight,’ ‘not intentional’

HOMER, Mich. – The owner of a Michigan farm accused of using raw, untreated human waste in fields, sparking a widespread consumer alert, says the incident was an “accident”.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development issued a consumer alert Tuesday after a routine safety inspection of Kuntry Gardens in Homer identified raw, untreated human waste in the fields. The products were sold to local grocery stores and through direct sales.

Consumers are urged not to eat products or products containing Kuntry Gardens products as they may be contaminated with human waste. Affected products should all be labeled under the Kuntry Gardens name, officials said.

State officials say that using raw, untreated human waste to grow commodities “intended for human consumption is a violation of Michigan Food Law,” in addition to “other state and federal laws and regulations.”

So far, no illnesses related to the possible contamination have been reported.

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Kuntry Garden officials spoke to Local 4 on Wednesday and said the incident was an honest mistake and the farm did not use human waste as fertiliser.

“That was an incident that happened, it wasn’t intentional. It was an honest mistake. We didn’t use it [human waste] as fertilizer,” said Andy Stutzman, owner of Kuntry Gardens. “It was just a small patch, about 5ft by 5ft, with human waste dumped from an outbuilding there. This was before the land was plowed. We will test the soil to make sure the soil is ok for next year. Due to this incident, we will cease all farming/sales for the rest of the year. We are all about food safety, but that just happened and it was an accident.”

Human waste that has not been professionally treated can spread potentially harmful infectious diseases such as E. coli, Hepatitis A, Rotavirus, Norovirus and Clostridium difficile. Anyone who has purchased Kuntry Gardens products is urged to see a doctor if they are experiencing symptoms of a foodborne illness.

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Such symptoms include:

  • nausea

  • Vomit

  • Diarrhea

  • jaundice

  • Fever

  • Stomach cramps

  • loss of appetite

  • Weakness

  • headache

Kuntry Gardens was sold at the following Washtenaw County locations:

  • Busch’s Fresh Food Market stores in Ann Arbor, Dexter and Saline

  • White Lotus Farms, 7217 West Liberty Road, Ann Arbor

  • Argus Farm Station, 325 West Liberty Street, Ann Arbor

  • Agricole Farm Stop, 118 North Main Street, Chelsea

  • Ypsi Coop, 312 North River Street, Ypsilanti

And in other locations throughout Michigan:

  • Kuntry Gardens, 29910 R Drive South, Homer

  • Busch’s Fresh Food Market stores are located in Brighton, Canton, Clinton, Farmington Hills, Livonia, Novi, Pinckney, Plymouth-Northville, Rochester Hills, South Lyon, Tecumseh and West Bloomfield

  • Simply Fresh Market, 7300 Grand River Road, Brighton

  • Pure Willows, 1192 Ann Arbor Road, Plymouth

  • Greener Pastures Market, 21202 Pontiac Trail, South Lyon

  • Christmas Market, 520 South Lilley Road, Canton

  • Cherry Capitol, Traverse City

“MDARD still has the affected product placed at the impounded farm and is working with the farm to oversee disposal and corrective actions,” said an MDARD release. “Consumers are encouraged to contact the farm or facility where the product was purchased for disposal and refund instructions.”

MDARD can be reached with questions or concerns at 800-292-3939 Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued an advisory urging consumers to discard any produce or product containing Kuntry Gardens produce, as it could be contaminated with untreated human waste.

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