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Evidence of mice eating food led to Stop & Shop closure

Signs on the Stop & Shop front door advised customers that the store was temporarily closed.
Signs on the Stop & Shop front door advised customers that the store was temporarily closed.David L. Ryan/Globe staff

A Stop & Shop supermarket in Roxbury was closed by city health officials on Monday after workers failed to address unsanitary conditions found in the store three days earlier.

The grocery store will remain closed until the problems, including evidence of mice having eaten through a bag of bread in the bakery, are corrected.

A photo from the city shows bread with holes caused by mice in a storage area of the grocery store.
A photo from the city shows bread with holes caused by mice in a storage area of the grocery store.INSPECTIONAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT

On Monday afternoon, dueling signs were posted on the store’s front doors on Blue Hill Avenue. One, from Boston’s Inspectional Services Department, said an “imminent health hazard” had required the immediate suspension of the store’s operations. Another, this one handwritten and misspelled, said, “We are currently closed due to maintnence [sic]. Please visit our South Bay store.”

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In a statement, Stop & Shop apologized for the inconvenience to customers and said the presence of rodents “may be attributable to nearby demolition and construction activity.” Inspectional Services Commissioner William Christopher called that an unacceptable excuse for the code violations found.

Citations included the discovery of several dead mice in the bake shop and stock room, including a carcass stuck on a glue trap; mouse droppings on bread shelves in the retail area; and a dead rat near a trash container behind the store.

“We are cooperating with the department and we are making every possible effort to address the conditions and bring the store into compliance with our own high standards as quickly as possible,” Stop & Shop’s statement said.

City inspectors had visited the store Friday after receiving customer complaints, advised store employees to clean up, and said they would return Monday for a reinspection. But after conducting a more thorough inspection Monday, including taking apart shelving in retail areas, inspectors determined their instructions had been ignored and there were more severe problems than originally detected.

Employees from ECOLAB were let in through the front door of the Blue Hill Avenue Stop & Shop.
Employees from ECOLAB were let in through the front door of the Blue Hill Avenue Stop & Shop.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

“We try to work with everyone, but they had done nothing that had been requested, and the situation was actually much worse,” said Christopher, who visited the store personally Monday after his inspectors found “some very disturbing visuals.”

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Christopher said this is the first time he has shut down a grocery store for health violations in his nearly two-year tenure.

Christopher said Stop & Shop management told him they will work through the night to correct the code violations, and a reinspection will probably happen Tuesday. If the violations are corrected at that point, the store — at 460 Blue Hill Ave. — will likely reopen.

According to Christopher, the department will not be stepping up inspections of other Stop & Shop stores as a result of the Roxbury situation because it considers the problems there specific to that store’s current management.

“Right now we don’t plan to change our routine,” Christopher said. “But we want a very clear message to all supermarkets and all businesses that there’s a sanitary code they have to adhere to or there will be repercussions, like that which occurred today. We will close down the store.”

The citations at the Roxbury Stop & Shop reportedly included the discovery of a sticky trap with a mouse in it, trash strewn around a Dumpster behind the store and a dead rat.
The citations at the Roxbury Stop & Shop reportedly included the discovery of a sticky trap with a mouse in it, trash strewn around a Dumpster behind the store and a dead rat.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Sacha Pfeiffer can be reached at pfeiffer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @SachaPfeiffer.