Footage of Rats in Eateries to Be Shown

By Yolanda Woodlee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 3, 2007

If area viewers became squeamish watching the recent video of rats running wild at the Greenwich Village KFC/Taco Bell in New York, then they may not want to see footage today of what was found in the nation's capital.

The popular television show "Inside Edition" will show "rodents running wild in restaurants" from Dupont Circle to Adams Morgan in a segment scheduled at 4:30 p.m. on WUSA (Channel 9).

"Inside Edition found the disease-carrying vermin dancing in the alleys and leaping out of trashcans behind restaurants," according to the show's news release. "They even found some nesting inside parked cars."

D.C. Health Department Director Gregg A. Pane said the city's approach to rodent control includes education, inspection, baiting and enforcement.

"During warm winters, in many cases, there is not the typical die-off that is expected in severe winters. Rodents may reproduce more frequently and produce more offspring," he said. Also, "residents may be more active outdoors and leave food waste more frequently for rodents to eat, and the foliage may create rodent harborage."

"Inside Edition" will report that three District restaurants were closed after the television show alerted city health officials that rodents were found at them, according to the program's news release. The restaurants are Popeye's, 1315 14th St. NW; Mixtec, 1792 Columbia Rd. NW; and Baja Fresh, 1333 New Hampshire Ave. NW.

Inspectors were deployed to the restaurants, said Leila Abrar, a Health Department spokeswoman.

"We sent our inspectors there, and there were gross infractions at each of these facilities," Abrar said.

Baja Fresh was reinspected Saturday and allowed to reopen, but Popeye's and Mixtec remain closed, health officials said. Sergio Vazqueze of Baja Fresh's regional office in Baltimore said the store passed reinspection "with flying colors." A Popeye's employee, who declined to give his name, said the restaurant is following inspectors' recommendations. No one answered at Mixtec. In the District, 4,024 establishments serve food, and they must be inspected at least once a year, health officials said.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company