Rodents and food a bad mix, experts say
Source of Article: http://www2.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/city/story.html?id=a589d4b6-fb33-42ee-a2ad-4415be88729c
Tamara Gignac, Calgary Herald
February 16, 2009
A mouse infestation that shut
down a northeast Calgary
supermarket is a serious matter because rodents can spread E. coli, listeria and other dangerous illnesses, say food safety
Mice spread bacteria through
their saliva and feces. The small size and prolific breeding pattern of the
furry creatures can quickly turn an otherwise sanitary grocery store into a
rodent hot spot, warns Rick Holley.
Holley, a microbiology
professor in the University
department of food science, believes shoppers have every reason to be
squeamish at the thought of mice scampering over produce or gnawing on potato
are vectors for salmonella. They carry it and shed it not unlike chicken,
cattle or hogs," he said.
causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps --is not the only food-related
illness mice can carry. It's possible for the rodents to spark outbreaks of
E. coli or even listeria if they come in contact
with food that isn't sterilized before consumption.
Consumers often mistakenly
believe that washing fruits and vegetables, for instance, offers protection
against food-borne illnesses and that isn't always the case, said Doug
Powell, an associate professor of food safety at Kansas State
"People might think,
'What's the big deal about a little mouse poop?' But it's an indicator there
could be a whole lot else going on," Powell said.
Public complaints prompted health
inspectors to visit the Westwinds location of the
Real Canadian Superstore 17 times in just over a year before it was ordered
closed Tuesday after the discovery of live mice, rodent feces and gnawed
The supermarket passed a health
check and reopened just 18 hours later after staff did a shelf-by-shelf
cleaning and brought in an outside pest control firm.
The incident comes weeks after
a Loblaws store in Toronto--part of the same company as the
Superstore chain--was shut down after a"heavy infestation"of mice and rats,
including droppings on sandwich counters, was found.
Company spokeswoman Inge van den Berg said the two occurrences have prompted
the store to revamp its pest control procedures.
"We have a national pest
control team that is going across the country so managers can really
understand our aggressive pest protocol based on these recent learnings," van den Berg said. "We do have over
1,000 stores, and these are the only ones in a very long time (to be shut