Uh don’t put food where you handle dead bodies

By Tim Nelson
September 28, 2018
Photo by RobertHoetink via Getty Images

Ask anyone in a restaurant business, and they’ll tell you it takes a lot of hustle and attention to detail to pass a health department inspection with flying colors. Sometimes citations can feel minor and trivial. But in the case of one Minnesota health inspection, it’s pretty easy to understand the reason for the penalty.

According to a court ruling made public earlier this week, Joseph Wagner was fined for storing jars of applesauce in the embalming room of his funeral home. During a fall 2017 health department visit to Wagner Funeral Home in Jordan, Minnesota, inspectors found 60 crates of applesauce from his brother’s nearby apple orchard stacked in the same room where hazardous chemicals were stored. That’s a big no-no given that Minnesota state law expressly forbids the storage of anything not directly related to the embalming process in such a room.

In an appearance before an administrative law judge in protest of the $5,000 of citations issued to his funeral home, Wagner argued that this whole thing isn’t a big deal because the applesauce in question was sealed and not technically raw. The inspection report states that Wagner embalmed about half a dozen bodies in the room during the year the crates were stored there, so the apple sauce is either haunted or at least permeated with the foul stench of death.

So what else is Wagner guilty of besides being a good brother with some extra storage space? Basically a bunch of administrative stuff that suggests a lackadaisical approach to paperwork, including failing to display his mortician’s license. Maybe he was taking the "trust me, I got this" approach to handling dead bodies.

So there you have it: The most morbid health code violation I've seen in some time. And if you find yourself in the southwestern suburbs of Minneapolis, you might want to skip the applesauce unless you’re in the mood for something spooky.