Hundreds of Toronto businesses cited with rat, mouse, insect problems since 2011


TORONTO – Over the past two years, a total of 973 health citations involving rodents, infestations or inadequate pest control have been issued to 754 different establishments in Toronto, an analysis of data from DineSafe suggests.

Over the weekend, photos of rats crawling across the furniture at New Seaway Fish Market in Kensington popped up online, prompting Toronto’s public health agency to temporarily close the facility pending a cleaning and re-inspection.

The market is now open again, after undergoing repeated inspections and Jim Chan of Toronto Public Health says people shouldn’t be worried about past negative inspections.

“If it’s not safe, inspectors would not allow them to re-open,” Chan said.

Using data freely available on the city of Toronto’s Open Data website, Global News analyzed and visualized health citations issued to restaurants in Toronto.

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Of the 754 establishments cited, a total of 87 were forced to close – at least temporarily – as a result.

The majority of the citations were for inadequate pest control, however 25 were handed out for failing to prevent an insect infestation and 19 were issued for failing to prevent a rodent infestation. According to Michael Goldman of Purity Pest Control, controlling rodent populations is of the utmost concern for restaurant owners.

But for establishments in older neighbourhoods such as Kensington or Chinatown, local BIA’s have taken the step of hiring pest control companies to manage the entire area.

“It’s always a concern because you want to make sure that people dine in an environment that is pest free and disease free,” Goldman said.

However, there are a number of challenges when trying to keep an area free of rodents.

Some of those challenges, Goldman said, may be beyond a person’s control.

“Restaurants in older areas it may be a little more difficult to keep pest free. The walls are falling apart inside and outside and all you need is a small hole for a rat or a mouse to get through,” Goldman said. “Having one restaurant or grocery store be very proactive and work hard to maintain a pest free environment and your neighbour not do the same thing is a problem.”

Rodents can fit through very small holes, Goldman said, from the size of a quarter for a rat to the size of a dime for a mouse.

“Because these are old buildings, they are attached, sometimes wiring is shared, etc and a mouse, a rat, a roach can go from one building to the next just by going through a crack or a hole,” Goldman said.

And warm winters may allow more rat and mice populations to grow, meaning more rodents crawling through small holes pining for food.

“If there’s a lot of snow, food is harder to find, and the rats or mice, some may not be able to over-winter, and so the populations stay low. When it’s a mild winter and there is food all around, the garbage bins are very accessible, rat population and most populations will increase dramatically,” Goldman said.

– With files from Leslie Young

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