Shop in Ariana Grande doughnut-licking controversy in hot water

A doughnut shop at the center of a controversy involving pop star Ariana Grande is in hot water with Riverside County health officials after surveillance video showed her licking a tray of doughnuts left exposed on a counter.

The video apparently shows Grande and a man at Wolfee Donuts in Lake Elsinore about 11:30 p.m. Saturday “maliciously lick” doughnuts left on a display shelf, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.

The shop owner took the video to detectives and filed a report, saying the doughnuts were deliberately tampered with.

But Sheriff's Deputy Michael Vasquez says they don’t believe a crime was committed, so they won’t be investigating Grande.

Now Riverside County’s Department of Environmental Health is investigating the doughnut shop -- not Grande -- for the food tampering.

Department spokeswoman Dottie Merki says health inspectors will be looking into whether the doughnut shop has a history of leaving doughnuts out on display and if they had existing policies to prevent access to the fried confectioneries.

The sheriff's department will be assisting the environmental health department with its investigation. No charges have been filed, Vasquez said.

California health laws require restaurants to protect all food from contact with the public, she said.

Doughnut shop manager Ricky Marin said the doughnuts sold out that night, so it’s possible that someone ate the doughnuts licked by Grande and her friend. The health department hasn’t received complaints from people who ate the contaminated doughnuts, Merki said.

A store employee was swapping out older doughnuts with fresh ones when she placed them on the shelf, Marin said.

Grande asked the employee to retrieve fresh doughnuts from the back of the bakery, so the employee left the tray of powered doughnuts on the display unattended, he said. It was then that Grande and her friend licked the tray during a game of truth or dare, Marin said.

But Grande’s doughnut-licking isn’t the only action being criticized. In the video, Marin said Grande makes a comment about hating Americans and America.

Grande’s comments, seen in a video posted by TMZ, drew backlash, and she apologized in a statement.

“I am extremely proud to be an American and I've always made it clear that I love my country. What I said in a private moment with my friend Ryann, who was buying the donuts, was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words.

"As an advocate for healthy eating, food is very important to me and I sometimes get upset by how freely we as Americans eat and consume things without giving any thought to the consequences that it has on our health and society as a whole. The fact that the United States has the highest child obesity rate in the world frustrates me…. However I should have known better in how I expressed myself; and with my new responsibility to others as a public figure I will strive to be better.”

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


July 9, 6:54 a.m.: This post has been updated with the sheriff's department assisting in the investigation and no charges being filed yet.

This story was first published July 8 at 4:15 p.m.