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A blog by your local public health experts

 

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Eek! It’s a creepy crawly!

Photo of Communications Manager Edie Jeffers
by Edie Jeffers10/02/2018 1:56 p.m.
Updated: 10/10/2018

Update

Oct. 10, 2018, Noon

Early this morning, McDonald’s staff at the 11012 Pacific Ave. location found a dead rat in the dining area; the food establishment management voluntarily closed the store and informed Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. We will continue to work with the food service establishment and its pest control company until the issue is resolved. We will update this blog when the facility re-opens.  

Update

Oct. 5, 2018, 9 a.m.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has given the green light to McDonald’s at 11012 Pacific Ave. to reopen this morning after the food service establishment completed all tasks their pest control company recommended.

Here's what occurred before we allowed them to re-open:

  • We worked with the establishment and the pest control company to ensure they completely remediated the problem according to the pest control procedures.
  • We conducted a pre-opening inspection to ensure they cleaned and sanitized all surfaces and discarded any contaminated food items.
  • We did not see any evidence of rodents during the pre-opening inspection.

Within the two weeks, we will follow with an inspection to verify the establishment's pest control plan is working.

They’re scary but rarely unhealthy

Pests. Rats, mice, cockroaches, and other creepy crawlies. Ick.

It’s gross, but when do these unwelcome visitors become a food safety concern in a food service establishment?

One or two is a signal to the food service establishment that they need to become more vigilant with their pest control plan.

“When pests start multiplying, it becomes a health risk,” said Christina Sherman, environmental health specialist. “An infestation is an imminent health hazard under our food code, and we will close an establishment until they correct the problem.”

Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often, according to Sherman.

Food service closures for pests are rare

In the past 10 years, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has closed food service establishments only three times because of a pest infestation. Included in this count of three is McDonald’s at 11012 Pacific Ave., which closed voluntarily on Sunday evening. The Health Department will require the restaurant to remain closed until they’ve resolved their rat problem.

The truth is rodents and pests are in the environment. We can’t expect all spaces to be completely free of an occasional pest or two. But food service establishments are responsible for keeping them out, which means they typically work with a pest control company regularly.

In this case, the establishment was already working with a pest control company, but when the problem reached an infestation, they acted without us having to close them. That’s a good thing.

Before we clear the facility to reopen, here’s what will happen:

  • We will work with the establishment and the pest control company to ensure they completely remediate the problem according to the pest control procedures.
  • We will conduct a pre-opening inspection to ensure they have cleaned and sanitized all surfaces and discarded any contaminated food items.
  • We will not allow the establishment to reopen if we see any evidence of rodents during the pre-opening inspection.

Fortunately, most food service establishments take the steps to control pests without us having to tell them to do so. And, we look for pests as a part of our regular food service inspection visits. When establishments have a problem with pests, we ensure they take steps to keep the critters outside—where they belong. That’s why restaurant closures for pest problems are so rare.

Report food safety concerns or illnesses, look up two-year food service inspection reports and more at www.tpchd.org/food

  1. Updated: 10/10/2018
  2. Updated: 10/05/2018
Photo of Communications Manager Edie Jeffers

by Edie Jeffers

Communications & Community Relations Manager