Organizers of a food giveaway for the poor in Kansas City, Missouri, were shocked when Kansas City health authorities threw away “perfectly good barbecue” that had been collected by volunteers at the American Royal -- an annual horse show and rodeo.  Instead of feeding the hungry, when health inspectors found it, they threw bleach on the food because they decided because it did not originate at a permitted establishment and they could not track where the food had been. They could not, therefore, they could not be ensured of the food's safety.
 
On November 9, an inspection of the Hope City shelter uncovered the shipment of thousands of pounds of classic American barbecue that had been shipped from American Royal. Harvesters Community Food Network, which coordinates the collection of food for the needy, claimed that it was a labeling error that led to the waste. An official at Hope City that it was the “most magnificent barbecue spread,” that was thrown away.
 
Kookers Kare executive Gary Denham said that his organization sent a refrigerated truck to American Royal, where only food that was appropriately hot or cold was collected. Kookers Kare is a group of chefs that has cooperated with Harvesters for the last five years to distribute to soup kitchens. They had expected to deliver barbecued brisket, ribs, and burnt ends, along with beans, potatoes, and other side dishes.
 
When Hope City was about to pass out the food to 150 poor people, an inspector demanded that approximately 700 pounds of barbecue be discarded. It was then doused with bleach and thrown into a dumpster. One witness said that everyone at the soup kitchen was “bummed out.” Hope City officials said that if inspectors had any questions, they should have asked. Denham was quoted as saying that 3,000 people went hungry as a result.


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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