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How a Food Store Inspection Turned Into a Hazmat Emergency

Two food safety emergencies in College Station, TX – an E. coli outbreak and a fumigant problem in a grocery store –  do not have anything to do with one another.

“At this time, the two incidents do not appear to be related,” Sara Mendez of the Brazos County Health Department told Food Safety News.

She was referring to April’s outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that was centered on College Station and Tuesday’s emergency closure of the BCS Asian Market, also located in College Station, after food safety inspectors came across a dangerous chemical at the store.

That inspection by both the Brazos County Health Department and the Texas Department of State Health Services uncovered aluminum phosphide — which local hazardous materials first responders say is an extremely dangerous chemical. Called Fumitoxin, it is a pesticide that requires a license to use.

College Station’s Hazmat (hazardous materials) team removed the dangerous chemical from the BCS Asian Market to Fire Station 2 on the city’s Rio Grand Boulevard, an action that required the entire area to be locked down Tuesday afternoon for about an hour. Even Fire Station 2 was evacuated for a time until the transfer was achieved.

Since it opened in 2006, BCS Market has been closed three previous times and now requires three inspections a year. In addition to the pesticide, the current closure was for food storage problems including rotten and moldy products, insect and rodent activity and cross-contamination problems.

The market remained closed on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the source of the April E. coli outbreak is continuing by both the Brazos County Health Department and the Region 7 offices of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Ten illnesses, five confirmed and five probable, are attributed to the outbreak. The adults have recovered but two College Station boys are still at Children’s Hosptial in Houston. Both suffered from HUS, a complication of E. coli infection that affects the kidneys, but their conditions have been upgraded to fair.

© Food Safety News
  • C C

    Let me get this straight — BCS was closed down temporarily by the Health Department in 2011 for evidence of rat droppings. They apparently fixed the problem with some fumigant. And now the health department comes back — coincidentally at the same time there is a E.Coli outbreak — to close down BCS for the use of that same fumigant. And the Department performs no food testing of any kind to support their claims that this fumigant has affected the food in any way nor contributed to the E.Coli.

    And of course, a week later: the Health Department finds the responsible party for the E.Coli outbreak — a local Mexican restaurant — and does nothing to the restaurant but ask them to implement a glove policy. No closures, no fines, no testing. Just jokes made at a press conference while two boys lie in the hospital.


    What can I say? An inept Health Department. A restaurant that gets out of Jail free. And an Asian supermarket that suffers.

  • ethanspapa

    Not to worry , The State and Federal Government will protect you. Yeah right!!

  • Jesse

    According to this article the store must not have had paperwork from an an approved pest control company since it mentions a license is required to use the pesticide. Furthermore, it appears food safety has not been top priority with management.
    It is probably a good thing they are shut down and by the way it sounds they should not own any food business.