Lawrence Walmart’s food license still suspended over rodent problem

MARION COUNTY, Indiana — A rat problem at a Walmart near Pendleton Pike has resulted in the suspension of food licenses until the problem is resolved.

The Marion County Public Health Department was first tested on Wednesday. Customers reportedly complained of rodent droppings and found rats in hot dog bun bags.

Sanitation inspectors found similar problems, including rodent feces near food and damaged packages of bread, rice, sugar, snacks and pet food with feces inside.

“It’s pretty, pretty bad,” said Elmer Centaro, a shopper who just finished shopping at Walmart.

Inside Walmart on Friday, the produce and meat sections were covered with tarps and the refrigerators were roped off. Customers were still shopping elsewhere in the store.

“I have about 17-and-a-half years of experience in the public health field, and I know that a facility this large could lose its food license or, at least temporarily, be in a state of disrepair,” said Graham McKean, director of public health and environmental health at IU. I don’t remember ever having it expired.

The Walmart is a repeat offender, according to the Marion County Health Department. Rodent activity was also reported in November 2022.

Excrement was found throughout the food area, from bread making to pet food, according to Wednesday’s inspection report. Inspectors also found that the reception area could be infested with animals. There was a large gap under one of the reception doors.

“Mouse only needs a quarter inch to enter the space,” says McKeen.

According to the MCPHD report, Walmart must eliminate rats, clean all shelves with feces, remove rodent infestations, and remove all damaged food packaging.

McKee said it could be a big job.

“They can invade many different places, and it can be difficult to pinpoint those locations,” he said. You may have to look for obvious signs like markings or droppings.”

The health department returned on Friday for follow-up testing. MCPHD food and consumer safety inspectors have determined that further progress is needed before the store’s food license can be restored. A re-inspection by the department is scheduled for next week.

McKeen said it will take effort to resolve the issue quickly.

“With a concerted effort and a good pest control professional, you can probably get it and get it to some acceptable level,” McKean said.

Bryor Newton, owner of Critter Removal Indianapolis, said it could take days or more to get rid of the rats completely.

“They have to be eliminated and poisoned, and that process can take about two weeks, depending on how many are there,” he said.

In a statement, Walmart said it had a third-party inspection to address the issue.

Walmart was also issued a subpoena for $500.

McKean said it’s very important for people to report health concerns within stores and other businesses.

“We hope and appreciate it because we are only taking snapshots and the public is really our eyes and ears,” he said. rice field.

If you’ve shopped at this Walmart and are concerned about the food you buy, McKee said all produce should be washed and the items in the package inspected.

“If you’re worried, throw it out when in doubt,” McKee said.

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