Make sure you check your candy for gnaw marks and mouse feces the next time you buy a Snickers from one of Park Slope's big-brand pharmacies.
An analysis of state records shows a chronic history of failed health inspections at Park Slope CVS and Duane Reade pharmacies, for issues related to rodent feces and defiled food resulting in food seizures.
According to data supplied by the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets, Duane Reade has failed health inspections seven times since 2005 for critical violations considered health risks by the state.
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The Department of Agriculture and Markets defines critical violations as "an immediate threat to the public health and welfare."
According to the data, Duane Reade (296 Flatbush Ave) failed their last inspection date on December 27, 2012 with one critical violation. Inspectors found 10 to 20 “fresh appearing mouse droppings” on the floor, underneath food storage shelves in the basement storage area.
During an inspection on May 9, 2005, inspectors seized 4.9 lbs. of chocolate bars and cookies on retail shelves which were found to be rodent-defiled with gnaw marks. The products were destroyed under signed waiver during inspection.
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During the same inspection, there were 300 to 500 mixed “fresh-and-old-appearing mouse droppings” throughout Duane Reade on floors of the baling room and basement and on retail shelves.
On July 29, 2005, there were 50 to 100 “mixed old-and-fresh-appearing mouse droppings” at the shopping bag display in giftwrap aisle. During the same inspection, there were 11 to 20 mixed old-and-fresh-appearing mouse droppings in the corner behind unused shelving parts on the basement floor.
On Feb. 28, 2006, there were 50 to 100 mouse droppings on the basement floor and on retail candy shelf.
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On May 4, 2006, inspectors seized one pound of Mr. Goodbar chocolate bars on a retail shelf that were found to be rodent-defiled with gnaw marks. The product was destroyed during inspection. Inspectors also found 5 to 10 mouse droppings on retail candy shelves.
Two months later, on July 3, 2006, 10 ounces of Mr. Goodbar chocolate bars on retail shelf were found to be rodent-defiled with gnaw marks, were seized and destroyed. There were also 5 to 10 fresh-appearing mouse droppings on retail candy shelves with torn wrappers.
During two visits to Duane Reade, a manager told Park Slope Patch that he was not authorized to speak about the failed health inspections.
Duane Reade and CVS were only two of 103 businesses we analyzed in Park Slope as part of a statewide effort to map grocery store inspection results. See the full interactive map above.
A woman shopping at Duane Reade said that the failed health inspections make her feel sick — especially since she just ate a candy bar she bought there.
“That’s actually the nastiest thing I’ve ever heard,” said Park Slope resident Audrey Clavin. “Ugh, Jesus.”
Clavin said she will might skip Duane Reade in the future.
“I’d rather pay a few extra bucks at a specialty shop then ever risk eating candy with mouse droppings,” Clavin said. “This knowledge and the other bad experiences I’ve had shopping there is enough for me to never go back. It’s disgusting.”
At CVS (341 Ninth Street) the chain pharmacy has failed 11 inspections since 2002 and had a few seizures.
Their last inspection was August 8, 2012, however, and during this visit there were no critical deficiencies. But there were “general deficiencies” like two live flies found in the retail area, exterior rear exit door had a space greater than 1/4 inch at bottom, 5 to 10 old appearing mouse droppings are on basement's floor/wall junction, and more.
However, during a May 23, 2012 inspection the Department of Agriculture and Markets seized 2.2 lbs. of Hershey's chocolate bars and Snickers peanut butter candy because they were found to be rodent defiled with gnaw marks. They also found 50 to 100 fresh mouse droppings on candy storage shelves in the basement.
On Feb. 27, 2004, inspectors found 20 to 50 fresh appearing mouse droppings on the retail floor, under the popcorn display shelves. During the same inspection, 100 to 200 fresh mouse droppings were found along floor/wall junctures in storage room.
On April 28, 2004, there were 50 to 100 fresh mouse droppings along the floor/wall juncture in basement across from staircase, 20 to 50 droppings on the floor in the basement under non-food storage pallets near electrical panel, and 10 to 20 droppings along the rear floor/wall juncture in basement conference room.
The manager of CVS told Park Slope Patch that she was not authorized to speak about the failed health inspections.
While Patch was at the chain pharmacy, a woman waiting in line said that the information on the failed health inspections has made her second-guess where she’ll buy her short grocery list.
“I think it’s gross, nasty and disgusting. I normally use pharmacies for just pharmaceutical purposes, but I’ll definitely re-think where to buy small food items like candy, milk, chips or yogurt,” said Jennifer Sullivan. “Now I’m grossed out.”
While the prevalence of vermin in New York City is by no means a surprise – inspectors discovered rodent-defiled food in 162 inspections in Brooklyn in 2012 – the concern over rats, and the diseases they carry, have lawmakers looking for stricter penalties.
State Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx/Westchester, has introduced a bill in Albany that aims to set up a three-strikes system to close repeat offenders.
“Since 2000, the department has hired additional inspectors and is inspecting supermarkets more frequently,” the bill reads. “But far too many stores are still being allowed to fail four or more inspections before being closed down.”
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