Funeral home owner stored apple sauce crates in embalming room

The Jordan mortician was issued a $5,000 penalty for health code violations.
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A funeral home owner has been penalized by the Minnesota Department of Health after he was found to be storing apple sauce in a room where he embalmed dead bodies.

The record of an evidentiary hearing earlier this year involving Joseph Wagner was made public on Wednesday, revealing he was ordered to pay a $5,000 penalty for the health violations.

Wagner, who is a former Scott County Commissioner, owns Wagner Funeral Home in Jordan, preparing and embalming all of the recently deceased himself.

In September 2017, a health inspector found "a large number of crates containing jars of applesauce" in the preparation and embalming room, which were from an apple orchard located next door to the funeral home.

This apple orchard, it emerged, is owned by Wagner's brother, and Wagner said he was keeping the crates of sauce in the embalming room because his brother was short of storage space.

The crates had been kept in the room for a year prior to the inspection, and Wagner had embalmed six bodies while they were being kept in there.

Stored directly in front of the crates was the room's hazardous waste container, which is used to dispose of organs, blood and other hazardous materials from the embalming process.

The inspector was also unable to test the room's emergency shower – which is a requirement for such facilities – because the crates were placed directly beneath it.

The state cited the funeral home for 10 violations, some of which it had been cited for after inspections in previous years, such as record-keeping and paperwork violations. 

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The Health Department then issued a $5,000 penalty Wagner had to pay, and a conditional $2,500 penalty that would be forgiven if he made improvements.

Wagner appealed the $5,000 penalty, asking it be reduced because it would "create a 'severe hardship' on his small, family-owned business."

The $2,500 fine was forgiven after Wagner complied with the state's requirement, but an administrative law judge in April affirmed the state's decision to impose $5,000 non-forgivable fine on the business.

The Star Tribune reached out to Wagner for comment, but received no response.

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