Walmart reaches pre-trial agreement on Fort McMurray wildfire case

Retailer has been accused of selling food contaminated by wildfire in Alberta

Alberta Health Services says it has reached an agreement with Walmart Canada in a case where the retailer is accused of keeping and selling food that was potentially contaminated by the Fort McMurray wildfire.

A spokeswoman for the provincial health agency says a scheduling letter has been sent to the court ahead of a trial set to begin in Fort McMurray on Monday, stating the parties are ready to present an agreed statement of facts.

READ: Walmart charged with selling contaminated food in Fort McMurray

Kirsten Goruk says the letter also says there is a joint sentencing submission.

In January 2017, the agency said Walmart was charged with 174 violations of the province's Public Health Act, stemming from the wildfire that forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray in 2016.

A month had been scheduled for the trial.

READ: Lawsuit alleges Fort McMurray Walmart sold bad food after fire

An email from Walmart Canada on Saturday says the company is not commenting while the matter is before the court.

The huge fire that broke out May 1 forced more than 80,000 people to flee the city. Residents were not allowed to return to the damaged community until June.

Some of the charges against Walmart include failing to dispose of food items including candy, potato chips, beans and condiments.

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

At the time the charges were laid, a Walmart Canada spokesman said the company was surprised, noting they follow strict procedures to ensure the safety of their food.

The spokesperson also said Walmart worked closely with food inspectors and the crisis team of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to reopen the store to support the community.

AHS said its staff worked closely with food operations after the wildfire to ensure they reopened safely.

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