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Health Department Tells Funeral Home to Stop Storing Applesauce in Embalming Room

Inspectors found crates of applesauce behind a disposal container containing “organs, blood and other hazardous waste.”

by Jelisa Castrodale
Sep 27 2018, 7:45pm

Photo: Getty Images/MagMos

According to Bon Appetit, if you take the time to make homemade applesauce—and its writers insist that its tangy flavor is so worth the effort—you can store it in your fridge for up to ten days, or it can be kept in the freezer or in cans if you don’t plan on using seven-plus cups of applesauce in seven-plus days.

It’s true that they don’t specifically say “don’t store it in the same room where you prepare human bodies for burial,” but that’s probably not the best practice.

The Minnesota Department of Health may or may not have recently made its own applesauce, but it did recently cite Joseph Wagner, the owner of the Wagner Funeral Home, for keeping his in the facility’s embalming room.

According to the Star Tribune, Health Department inspectors found crates of applesauce stacked behind a disposal container where Wagner put “organs, blood and other hazardous waste from the embalming process.” The applesauce had been stored in the room for at least a year; during that same time period, Wagner embalmed at least six bodies.

During a hearing to appeal the Health Department’s findings—especially the ones that didn’t involve canned goods—Wagner said that he was keeping the applesauce for his brother, who owned an apple orchard and had run out of places to put all of his crates. (Here’s an idea: stop making applesauce.) Wagner also said that he thought it was totally fine to use the embalming room as his sauce pantry, because the jars inside the crates were sealed.

Minnesota state law says that embalming rooms cannot be used to store anything that isn’t related to the embalming process. Wagner was also in violation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations regarding blood-borne pathogens.

Wagner was also cited for a number of other serious-sounding violations, including failing to “complete and retain a certificate of removal for each human body before it’s removed from the place of death,” failing to “obtain written authorization to embalm a body and retain it in funeral home,” and failing to “create and maintain an accurate record of every embalming performed in the funeral home.”

If all of this has made you crave homemade applesauce, then the Hansen-Spear Funeral Home in Quincy, Illinois has its own recipe to share. “This is a great time of year to get good apples from the orchard and make some homemade applesauce,” owner William Spear writes. “It makes a great homemade gift!”

Just don’t store it in the same room with your corpses!