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Rampant mold uncovered inside refrigerators at Walmart in Tacoma

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TACOMA -- A news tip led Q13 FOX investigators to moldy shelves at the Walmart store in Tacoma.

An employee sounded the alarm weeks ago, but he says store management wouldn’t clean up the mold.

On Tuesday shoppers reacted to what our undercover cameras captured inside.

“It’s disgusting,” shopper Craig Richardson said.

Filthy shelves and grime and even human hair in the refrigerators where customers grab milk, juice and eggs.

“Oh my gosh that’s terrible,” shopper Mary Mastro said.

But it's even worse in the back where employees stock the shelves an area shoppers can’t easily see.

Q13 FOX wanted to know what the possible health hazards could be. We snapped pictures on our cell phone and sent them to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to get some answers.

“That is mold, that's mold,” Food Safety Supervisor Katie Lott said.

Q13 FOX News spoke to a Walmart worker who wants to remain anonymous.

“It disgusts me -- I don’t buy milk or juice there it's because of that,” worker said.

He says he complained to the store management in early May about the dirty conditions but they never cleaned it up.

The health department says since the milk cartons are sealed, it's not likely the food will be contaminated, but the mold shouldn't be there.

"That's not acceptable because all food contact surfaces and storage needs to be smooth and easily cleanable,” Lott said.

“I will not buy Walmart milk from your store anymore clean up your act please,” Mastro said.

Walmart now says it will clean up its mess.

After we contacted them and showed them our pictures, a spokesperson gave us this statement:

“We are dedicated to improving the store experience for our customers, and this does not meet the high standards we have set. We have thoroughly cleaned all shelves and we will work to ensure this doesn't happen again.”

If you have a complaint, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department says they investigate every report they get. Your tip can remain anonymous.

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18 comments

  • The Decider

    I dont think I will be shopping at Walmart anymore. If the fridge areas look like that, who knows what other areas are like that too? This has to be the Walmart on Union. This is disgusting. And the fact that people knew about it and nothing was done about it. Pure laziness.

  • Niki Sparkles

    we all know walmart is the type that only cares about how much they make, they dont care about the state of their stores or whether their employees are being properly trained to do their jobs. just keep stocking those shelves!

  • Kelli

    I’m actually more concerned about the employees forced to work in those conditions. Exposure to mold overtime can cause a multitude of health problems.

  • Walt Waisath

    I was at that Walmart twice in the last week, and I did not see any signs of what was in the picture, so either they cleaned up before Sunday, or they had swapped out some of the shelving.

  • Elizabeth Chubbuck

    The containers are SEALED?? Can I FIRE that health department employee?? The spores are ALL OVER the containers and as SOON as someone opens their milk guess what gets MOLDY VERY QUICKLY as clearly this is a cold storage tolerable mold! OMG!!!!

    • halfpintjess

      Thank you!! Its so insane how ill informed people are on mold. THIS IS A HEALTH HAZARD!! I would suggest Wal-Mart get its air and dust tested to see how much toxic mold is circulating through that air. I bet their HVAC is covered in it!

      • hellomurica

        If they’re not going to take the incentive when an employee told them about the problem, you can rest assured they won’t lift a finger to inspect their HVAC. Not until there’s hidden camera footage inside it, anyway.

  • Julie

    Wow, employee doesn’t want to be identified then in the article it says the employee brought it up to management in May. Way to go and blow the cover for the employee. Hope he/she still has a job.

  • Babs

    Don’t think it is only Tacoma. My daughter worked at another Walmart store in the area and this seems to be Walmart’s general food handling practices. Wake up people, the Health Department calls and warns Walmart ahead of time that they are doing an inspection. So does it surprise you that the health inspector doesn’t find anything. The rest of the time, employees try and report problems, as my daughter did and as this employee stated in the article, management ignores it. This is not limited to the dairy section, it is meat and frozen food too. My daughter who worked there for several years won’t purchase food for her family there either.

  • halfpintjess

    Some people are so sick from mold toxicity and mold allergies, that even though the milk isn’t contaminated-the air is and people will STILL GET SICK. If someone who is suffering from mold toxicity or allergic takes this home or touches it, they could be sick for weeks. Mold is like peanuts and there are varying degrees of sensitivity to it. I would literally be sick for days if I had touched one of those cartons. I haven’t shopped at Wal-Mart for a long time thanks to their failure to do something about the stores mold problems its about time they were found out like this.

  • someone

    I’ve worked for the company for several years, and we take great pride in ensuring customers have a safe, friendly, and clean customer experience. Ask yourself this the emoyees who say they brought it to managements attention, what did they do to solve the problem? We would never stop an employee from cleaning!

    • hellomurica

      Because mold can be toxic, and knowing Walmart’s health insurance plan, the person would wind up paying for treatment. On top of that, if the person doesn’t know what they’re doing they could wind up spreading the spores and making a bigger mess. Let the professionals identify what kind of mold it is, and clean it up the correct way.

  • hellomurica

    Oh sure, *now* they’re going to clean it up, after they were exposed to larger audience and not just one concerned employee. Disgusting.

  • Downey

    These comments are so ignorant. The employee who reported it didn’t do anything to solve the problem. They didn’t follow up or anything. It would have never gotten like that if the employees of that department would have been doing thier job and cleaning on a regular basis. Don’t blame the whole company for a lazy associates mistake. True enough walmart has thier bad eggs but thats every company.

    • ken

      Associates cant do there job when managers tell them cleaning is not the priority that binning is so its obvious they couldn’t do there job know your facts before you run your mouth about them not doing there job!!!!

  • GarryNMarrufo

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  • Elite Approved

    I can’t believe this was at walmart! mold is super dangerous and I can’t believe this wasn’t checked before going out to the stores.