INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indianapolis Little Caesars pizza shop has reopened after it was shut down by the Marion County Public Health Dept. because a customer found "numerous mouse droppings" baked into his pizza crust.
The customer picked up the pepperoni Hot-N-Ready pizza Tuesday at 2181 N. Meridian St. on the north side. He discovered the mouse droppings after leaving the restaurant, health department supervisor Derek Trackwell said.
"Fortunately, they did not consume any of it," Trackwell said.
The customer took the pizza back, and then called IMPD, Trackwell said. Police contacted health department officials, who asked him to send in any of the uneaten pizza for testing.
A lab test verified mouse droppings, Trackwell said.
"There was a good amount. It was very obvious that there were numerous mouse droppings in the pizza," he said. "It's not very often that we run into that amount of evidence of mouse droppings in a food product."
The inspector revoked Little Caesar's license at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. According to the health department report, the inspector discovered mouse droppings throughout the store, "along the walls throughout the facility," but nothing in the dough or any other food in, or in cabinets.
The fact that no droppings were found from the floor-level up is puzzling to the department, Trackwell said, and could mean it was an intentional act.
"You'd think we'd find droppings in the actual product, but none were found," he said. "That's been a question that all of us had, to be honest with you. That's probably the biggest mystery."
The store's management acted quickly and cleaned and sanitized the restaurant, as well as brought in a pest control service.
It was inspected again and reopened for business at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Trackwell said.
"They don’t want to have to be in the media for the wrong reasons, so they want to get in and take care of things as swift as possible," he said.
A woman who identified herself as the manager at the location declined to comment. Calls to Little Caesars' corporate office were not returned Thursday.
The health department will inspect a facility after any customer complaint and conducts regular inspections one to four times each year. But with about 5,000 facilities in Marion County and just 20 inspectors, the department relies on customer tips, Trackwell said.
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