Consumer Investigation: Former employee raises concerns about mice at a local food distributor. Company says it’s already addressed the problem

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A former worker at a local food distributor made a discovery that he fears puts the health of restaurant-goers at risk. He found mice, lots of them. Restaurant Depot is a big food distributor. According to its website, it has more than 130 locations in 33 states. One of those locations is in Henrietta. And when a temp worker made that shocking discovery, he contacted News10 NBC’s Deanna Dewberry.

Restaurant Depot is not a name most know, but perhaps we should. That’s because the giant Henrietta warehouse supplies food in bulk to restaurants and bars across the Rochester area. Its website says it all advertising that it’s the place where restaurants shop.

Jimmie Eddington III took a temporary job there before starting his current retail management position.  And on his first day, he says he encountered something he didn’t expect.

“The first pallet that I’m supposed to put away, it’s actually a sugar pallet, and it’s got like droppings on there, like mice droppings,” Eddington recalled. “Immediately, I’m like woah!”

Moments later, he lifted a bag of sugar and made another discovery.

“It was actually a family of mice that was living inside the bag,” he said.

Between the bags were a half dozen mice living in food to be sold to local restaurants.

News10 NBC contacted Restaurant Depot’s corporate office.  A spokesman wrote, “We’re aware of the mouse issue.  As soon as we became aware, we took immediate and aggressive action to remedy the situation.”    

Eddington says the pallet with its family of rodents sat for hours until a forklift operator arrived.

“He just put that pallet up to the top with the whole family in there,” said Eddington.

He says during the days that followed he continued to document mouse droppings.

Restaurant Depot leaders insist, “We take food safety very seriously. We have extensive policies and procedures designed expressly to ensure food quality and safety. The processes include internal audits and compliance reviews. In fact, the internal audit is how we identified this issue..”

They went on to say, “Our locations are regularly serviced by pest control.  When we became aware of this situation, we terminated our service provider. We hired a local company that provides service on-site every week.  That service is supplemented by an internal team that performs regular cleaning, inspections and facility repairs to prevent recurrence.”

As for Eddington, he says he’s concerned. “It’s disgusting,” he said emphatically. “And I think if the customer saw that picture and they see what’s going on, they’re going to want to get answers.”

So, I went looking for answers.  I contacted the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, the state department in charge of inspections of this facility. A spokesman told me the facility was last inspected in January of 2022 and had no deficiencies, and the department has the power to call a hearing to revoke a facility’s license if it repeatedly fails inspection.

The spokesman said the inspections are generally done annually and the department is planning another unannounced inspection of the warehouse soon. Again, leaders at Restaurant Depot say they are already addressing the problem and food safety is their first priority.