FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After being shut down by the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health for more than a week, 3 Rivers Natural Grocery was approved to reopen on Friday. Many people, including leaders at the store, say roaches are a common problem a lot of other food facilities deal with. But according to the Department of Health and a Fort Wayne exterminator, this infestation was more serious.
On May 23, inspectors with the Health Department spotted what they said was an infestation of roaches and mouse droppings.
15 Finds Out spoke with Janelle Young, 3 Rivers Natural Grocery general manager, on Wednesday. When asked if the store had a pest problem she initially said it was not any more than what’s normal.
“It’s one of those things when you’re close to the rivers and downtown area, you have to constantly be on it and keep up on it and take care of things,” Young said.
So 15 Finds Out asked the Department of Health if similar roach infestations are frequent in Fort Wayne.
“A situation such as closing them because of a pest infestation, I wouldn’t say it’s highly frequent but it is something that we still run into,” said Ann Applegate, food and consumer protection division director with the Department of Health.
If restaurants have a minor pest problem, Applegate said the Department of Health will work with the business to fix it. It only shuts down businesses for what Applegate calls an “imminent health hazard” that could pose a danger to the public.
Rob Jackson owns Jackson Pest Control. He said it doesn’t matter if a facility is new or old, but pests are usually a product of a dirty facility.
“I don’t think every restaurant has a pest problem. I think some restaurants are cleaner than others,” Jackson said. “I think if you have a filthy restaurant and the kitchen is filthy and the people are roller skating on grease-covered floors, they probably will have a pest problem.”
Jackson said if the Department of Health shuts a business down, he places the blame equally on both the person in charge and the pest control company.
Jackson said customers can gauge the cleanliness of the restaurant or store’s product by looking at its kitchen.
“The kitchen is a big indicator,” he said. “People spend so much time preparing great meals and great food. But they also need to spend more time cleaning.”
On Wednesday, leaders at the grocery alluded to the fact that other businesses around Spring Street and Sherman Blvd. had similar pest problems. But 15 Finds Out discovered no signs of pest problems in Lexy’s Pizza and the Green Frog Inn after obtaining their four most recent inspections.
In Fort Wayne, a business is not required to tell customers if it’s shut down by the Department of Health and why. Leaders say if you see something unsanitary at restaurants or stores, contact the store manager or the Department of Health.