State issues ‘critical notice’ after investigating evidence of rodents in bread area of Mississippi grocery store

Published 3:58 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce has issued a “Critical Notice” for a Mississippi grocery store after an investigation was launched into customer complaints about dead rodents.

The Natchez Democrat reports that a “Yellow Critical Notice” was posted at the door of the Natchez Walmart Supercenter at 314 Seargent Prentiss Drive after state inspectors found evidence of rodents at the store. The Consumer Protection Division of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce received a consumer complaint on Aug. 8 reporting two dead rats on the floor at the center.

When an inspector arrived at the Natchez store on Aug. 9, he found a loaf of Sara Lee Honey Wheat bread that had been “chewed on by rodents.” In reviewing the facility, he also noted “rodent urine smell in the warehouse where bread vendor racks are stored.”

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State officials also noted “the store was aware of the problem and had begun taking corrective action prior to the arrival of the (inspector).” Those actions included putting out rodent traps and glue boards and having “pest control visiting daily.”

The inspector will return to Natchez 10 days from the citation – Aug. 19 – for a follow-up inspection.

As for notifying the public of the issues, local Walmart employees on Wednesday denied The Natchez Democrat access to the inspection report, despite the posted public notice saying the report was available for viewing at the store. However, state officials provide the documents on Thursday. The original findings can be read here and here.

The Yellow Critical Notice was posted at the top of a window to the right of the grocery store entrance. In addition to notifying the public of a violation, the notice states that “A copy of the inspection report is available at this retail food establishment for review upon request.”

However, a customer service representative at the store said Wednesday she had been instructed to inform anyone who asked about the violations that “it has been taken care of.”

After unsuccessful attempts to find the manager at the Natchez Walmart store in person, he did return a phone call to The Democrat, only to say he has been instructed by “corporate” to not provide the inspection report. He directed inquiries to “corporate.”

State officials said the original Yellow Critical Notice sign was defaced at the store and the state had to reissue a new sign.