Walmart has issued a statement about a viral video (below) showing an Ohio store throwing out piles of food.
The video, posted by Facebook user Gary Joe Ahrns, shows workers at a Walmart in Celina, Ohio, discarding carts of food including milk, butter and meat, according to WJW. In the clip, Ahrns points out that the labels on some of the food do not show that it is expired. After he asks the employees if he can take the food with him, he is told no.
The video went viral on Facebook, racking up about 10 million views and over 60,000 comments. However, fact-checking site Snopes reports that its message is misleading.
The area that the Walmart is in was reported to have experienced a tornado and major power outages that affected the store, causing much of the food seen in the video to go bad.
Ahrns' video doesn't make any mention of the tornado or power outage, WFSB reports.
According to The Lima News, Celina was battered by the storm on Nov. 5, just a day before Ahrns posted his Facebook Live video.
"It's bad enough that the tornado came through, but really, the rain and water was the worst," said Lake Shore Auto Sales owner Stephen Morgan, describing the tornado's effects. "It's amazing the damage water can do."
A state of emergency had been declared in Celina, and among the business affected by power outages was the Celina Walmart.
Walmart issued a statement regarding Ahrns' video and the situation at their Celina store.
"We have fielded a number of calls regarding a video circulating on Facebook showing our associates throwing out food, and we wanted our customers and community to understand the situation," Walmart wrote in a statement posted to Facebook. "Unfortunately, due to a tornado that affected our store in Celina, Ohio on November 5, the food being disposed of was unsafe for consumption after the store lost power for 14 hours. Per internal and health department policies, we followed proper procedures by disposing of the food."
While Ahrns' video was reported to be misleading, Americans do lead the world in food waste, according to The Atlantic.
Research cited by The Guardian suggests that half of all produce in the U.S. is thrown away because of Americans' tendency to look for visually "perfect" fruits and vegetables.
"It’s all about blemish-free produce,” said Jay Johnson, a shipper of fruit and vegetables. "What happens in our business today is that it is either perfect, or it gets rejected. It is perfect to them, or they turn it down. And then you are stuck."
"Grocery stores routinely trash produce for being the wrong shape or containing minor blemishes," said former Trader Joe's Company President Doug Ranch.
"There are a lot of people who are hungry and malnourished, including in the U.S.," said director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Shenggen Fan. "My guess is probably 5-10% of the population are still hungry -- they still do not have enough to eat. That is why food waste, food loss, matters a great deal. People are still hungry."
Warning: This video contains strong language.