A condiment spill in Muscatine Tuesday morning turned a local stream red and caused some stress to the fish that live there. Paul Brandt of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says a malfunction at the Heinz U.S.A. plant caused over 500 gallons of barbecue sauce to get into a local creek.
Brandt says they have a process where machine pulls air out of the barbecue sauce as it is made, but the machine malfunctioned and pulled the barbecue sauce out onto the roof where it ran into the stream. Brandt says the sauce flowed into Mad Creek and turned the creek red, while also staining the banks red.
Brandt says the stream was red for less than half a mile, and there was some impact on the fish. Brandt says they noticed stressed fish, but no dead fish. Brandt says the spill had the potential to do some damage, even though it was food.
Brandt says people think food that we eat can’t be toxic, and while it isn’t toxic, he says sometimes a spill like this will overwhelm the stream and cause an oxygen depletion. Brandt says fish weren’t meant to swim in barbecue sauce. He says food is a good thing for us, but it’s not a good thing in the water. Brandt isn’t sure if the Heinz plant will face any penalties for the spill. He says this did happen once before at the plant several years ago.