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Walmart fined $20K for selling contaminated food after Fort McMurray wildfire

Walmart Canada signage at a Laval, Que., Walmart store is seen on May 3, 2016. .
Walmart Canada signage at a Laval, Que., Walmart store is seen on May 3, 2016. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Walmart Canada has been ordered to pay a $20,000 fine for selling contaminated food after a devastating wildfire in northern Alberta two years ago.

Some of the charges against Walmart included failing to dispose of food items — including candy, potato chips, beans and condiments — after the Fort McMurray fire in May 2016.

READ MORE: What happens to all the fridges thrown out after Fort McMurray wildfire? 

An agreed statement of facts presented in Fort McMurray provincial court shows there were originally 174 charges, but that number was reduced to 10.

Walmart Canada and loss prevention manager Darren Kenyon were each fined $2,000 per offence.

In a statement, Walmart Canada spokesman Rob Nichol says the company didn’t adequately carry out an order from Alberta Health Services.

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READ MORE: AHS says Walmart Canada sold food possibly tainted by Fort McMurray fire

The health authority said food exposed to wildfires could be damaged by unsafe temperatures, smoke, ash, soot, fire retardants, water and loss of power.

Nichol says Walmart has learned from the experience and will be better able to respond in future crises.

“Food safety and the safety of our customers is our top priority,” said the statement released Monday.

“As part of our commitment, Walmart has recently made a donation to the Red Cross to support ongoing disaster preparedness, relief and recovery operations.”

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Nichol says the $130,000 donation to the Fort McMurray Red Cross was made Sept. 20.

READ MORE: Walmart facing lawsuit over allegations bad food sold after Fort McMurray wildfire

Crown prosecutor Ivan Bernardo said he believes the fines will deter other operators from committing a similar offence.

The huge fire forced more than 80,000 people to flee the city. Residents were not allowed to return to the damaged community until June.