GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The owner of a Grand Rapids gas station apologized after a mother found prescription drugs in a bag of candy but also said it was an accident.
“I just want to apologize to the community,” owner Tony Singh said Wednesday. “I apologize to the kids’ mother and all the communities.”
He said he fired the employee responsible. He said the clerk had worked for him a couple of months and there had never been any problems.
The candy was sold at the BP on Martin Luther King Jr. Street SE at Eastern Avenue. Singh explained that the gas station repackages candy from bulk bags into smaller ones for sale.
A clerk knocked over a bottle of his prescription diabetes medication and some of the pills were mixed in with the candy, police and Singh said. Singh said the worker told him it was an accident.
“He tried to open the bottle. He don’t know how to open the bottle. So when he open it by force, I think a couple pills must have spilled out and the candy box was right there,” Singh said. “So when somebody packed it, he did not look.”
He showed News 8 surveillance video of the employee struggling to open his pill bottle on another occasion.
On Monday, a mother found some pills in a bag of fruit-flavored Tootsie Rolls she bought for her 5-year-old. State investigators say she brought it back and was given a new one but that also had a pill in it. She called police. Community members demonstrated outside the gas station Tuesday.
Grand Rapids police say they don’t think anything criminal happened but they were in contact with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which oversees gas stations, about what should happen next.
MDARD inspectors were at the gas station Wednesday morning. Singh said they told him to throw out all the remaining repackaged candy. An investigation report from MDARD said five boxes of candy were thrown out, weighing a total of about 20 pounds and worth about $75.
“So the matter is solved,” Singh said.
It is legal in Michigan for stores to repackage bulk candy into smaller containers, but they have to follow certain rules. An MDARD spokesperson told News 8 an inspector determined the gas station wasn’t doing it properly, including not wearing gloves and not labeling the bags correctly. Singh said inspectors told him to stop repackaging until he had a sink where employees could wash their hands before the work.
MDARD’s report explains the are sinks in the gas station store, but they’re not the right kind or not placed properly: one is reserved for warewashing and the other is in the bathroom.
MDARD said it issued a license limitation for the gas station. That means the store can’t sell repackaged candy until it makes changes and MDARD confirms things are being done correctly.
The MDARD spokesperson said Singh has been cooperating as authorities look into what happened. The state agency will follow up.
“We are here in the neighborhood the last 22 years,” Singh said. “A lot of people know me.”
—News 8’s Susan Samples contributed to this report.