County: Rats found during inspection of Vancouver Walmart, in-store McDonald's
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Clark County Health Department officials found evidence of rats while inspecting a McDonald's, a deli, and a bakery located inside of a Vancouver-area Walmart.
Owners of the McDonald's at the store off Mill Plain and I-205 voluntarily closed the store when they found out about the rats .
Derek Morrison, a regional manager with McDonald's, says the owners are "very responsible, very concerned with their customers health and well being and didn't hesitate to close the store to address the problem."
On Friday, the McDonald’s had closed gates and a posted apology note, while cleaning crews scrubbed the floors in the Walmart deli department.
The Clark County Food Safety Program Director says it may be two or three more days before their inspection is finished and that part of the Walmart can re-open.
“The rest of the food within the store, and the other operations, were not very accessible for the rodents, and the risk was very low, so we did a targeted closure," said Joe Laxson, director of Clark County Food Safety.
Laxson says the county has never had a disease outbreak from rats, and while they will shut down any number of businesses every year for health reasons, most business closures are because of sick workers or improperly prepared food, not rat infestations.
"We've never had a disease outbreak in Clark County caused by rats" said Laxson.
New about the rats didn't deter shoppers like Mary Payne.
"If I personally feel that if it looks clean, for my own well being, you know, when you go in and look at things, that’s one thing, but if it doesn’t look like its being cleaned, then no I wouldn’t" said Payne.
Payne thinks the rats may have come from a neighborhood behind North of the store.
"When the water builds up, during the rainy season the water gets high, and with all the garbage and debris and that stuff, that’s where the rats and anything like to go, where all that stuff is.\" said Payne.
The health department is working with local pest management teams to investigate where the rats came from, and will let the stores open when the inspection is finished.
A Walmart spokesperson tells KATU "Cleanliness and food safety are top priorities for both Walmart and McDonald's, and they are working closely with the health department to insure the highest standards."