The owner of a Michigan farm said Wednesday that the dumping of untreated human waste on his land was an “honest mistake” after state officials issued a warning that his produce may have been contaminated.
Andy Stutzman, the owner of Kuntry Gardens in Homer, south of Lansing, told NBC affiliate WDIV of Detroit that the waste was not used as fertilizer. He said it came from an outhouse and was contained to a 5-by-5-foot section of land.
The farm plans to halt all farming and selling for the rest of the year, and soil will be tested before next year, Stutzman told the station.
“We are all about food safety, but this is just something that happened, and it was an oversight,” he told WDIV.
The state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development warned people Monday to stay away from the farm's produce because of potential contamination.
During a routine inspection, agency staff members found that the farm was using waste on fields used to grow produce sold directly to consumers and local grocery stores, the department said.
Shops in at least 20 locations from Ann Arbor to Traverse City have bought from Kuntry Gardens, the department said.
No illnesses had been reported; the department urged people experiencing symptoms of foodborne illness to seek medical help.
Untreated waste can cause hepatitis A, E. coli infections, rotavirus and other illnesses, the department said.
The department said using untreated waste to grow food is a violation of state and federal law. It wasn't immediately clear whether the farm will face criminal or other penalties.