The idea of mice, rats and various creepy-crawlies running amok in grocery stores is enough to make anyone squeamish. But it’s not just the ick factor — these vermin can pose serious health hazards to consumers.
So, when a west-end Toronto Loblaws at 650 Dupont St. was recently found to be overrun with rodents following a customer complaint, the city’s public health inspectors didn’t hesitate to shutter the store and order a massive cleanup.
Such an infestation is critical enough to be deemed a health hazard, says Jim Chan, manager of the Food Safety Program for Toronto Public Health. Cross-contamination can occur after rodents have crawled around a food counter, defecating and urinating, he says. “The next day when the worker comes in without cleaning and sanitizing the surface, they start preparing food, like making bread, cutting meat.”
Licensed pest-control companies typically have a contract to inspect and treat a grocery store once a month, or even once a week, depending on the retailer’s size and location.
Independents and corporate chain grocery stores in Canada have all signed on to a food-safety protocol, which includes dealing with incursions of rodents and other pests.