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D.C. Safeway reopens after mouse, rat infestation

Tuesday - 2/11/2014, 11:32am  ET

Michael Stern, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON - A Safeway in Northwest D.C. has reopened after being closed for one day because of mice.

The D.C. Department of Health conducted an investigation into the Piney Branch Road location of the popular grocery store after they received a complaint about cleanliness. Multiple violations were found including unwrapped baked goods, overstocked freezers and, most prominently, a rodent infestation.

The location was closed from Feb. 6 through Feb. 7.

"The location is infested with vermin, mice and rats," inspector Ronnie Taylor wrote in his report.

Feces from mice was found all around the store including in sales cases, refrigerators, storage areas and preparation stations, said the report.

District Councilwoman Muriel Bowser met with representatives from Safeway Monday morning about the issue.

Bowser stressed that the store needs to continue making improvements even though the Department of Health allowed it to reopen.

"Minimum standards are not good enough, so we will set out and see that they are held accountable at every level of the government," she says.

Safeway has made over a million dollars of improvements recently, according to Bowser, who also says someone needs to be held accountable at the food market.

She plans on meeting with the Department of Health and union officials that represent Safeway employees to get a better understanding of what is happening at that particular Northwest D.C. location.

Najma Roberts, the D.C. Department of Health Communications Director, says the Safeway has a risk level rating of five, which is up from the level four rating it had before the complaint. She says that the store must eradicate the rodents within 30 days of the report.

If the mice are still there in one month, the store could receive a fine or a more serious penalty depending on where the mice are found. Safeway has cooperated fully with the investigation, says Roberts, and she's sure there's no risk for the public to shop.

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Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the number of days the location was closed. We regret the error.

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