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UPDATE: YouTube video shows black rat sipping Starbucks syrup

Starbucks has instituted several new procedures in response to a YouTube video shot April 21 which shows what's believed to be a black rat inside the Terra Nova Starbucks, searching for food while walking on the counter amongst the syrups.

Steve Chong, Richmond's chief public health inspector, said that an environmental health officer met with Starbucks management on Tuesday morning to deal with the concerns.

A regional Starbucks manager as well as a Starbucks quality assurance employee were there as well, Chong said.

"Based on the inspection today, there is no indication that there's a rodent infestation," Chong told The Richmond Review.

Chong said the pest control employee noted some rodent access points, which have now been pest-proofed.

Pest control servicing has been stepped up from weekly to daily, he said.

Starbucks has instituted new procedures that include placing all open foods into pest-proof containers, and storing their coffee syrups into the walk-in cooler at the end of every day.

As well, at the start of every day, all food-contact surfaces are being cleaned and sanitized.

Chong suspects that recent renovation work done at the store, during which doors were left open all day, allowed wandering rodents to get inside the shop.

Chong believes from the grainy images that it was a black rat seen foraging around the syrups in the YouTube video. They wander up to 100 yards from their home.

During Tuesday's inspection, there was no indication of rodent activity. Signs would have included droppings or gnawed packaging, Chong said.

A local resident captured the footage around 11 p.m. on Thursday. He asked that his name not be published. A couple of nights earlier, on Tuesday, he also saw what appeared to be a baby rat, but he didn't have a digital camera with him to videotape what he saw.

But while chatting with friends outside the closed store, a bit of movement caught their attention, and this time he was able to videotape the rodent using a digital camera.

The video can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLLPZkXv0k8, and though the images are dark and grainy, a rodent of some type can be seen between two pump-style syrup dispensers on the right of the footage.

An employee at the store, who asked not to be named, said on Saturday afternoon: "We know about the issue and the issue is being dealt with."

She refused to comment further and wouldn't say whether management would be closing the facility.

A recent health department inspection found nothing amiss in the outlet.

A report dated April 11, 2011 indicates that no pests were observed and that a pest control program was in place. Sanitation and maintenance at the facility were deemed satisfactory.

 

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