I found a dead rat in the middle of my lawn today. Not exactly what you want to almost step on, as you go down after just one cup of coffee to collect the last of the season's (rather sad looking) tomatoes. Of course, that may be what has been eating them. I thought it was the squirrels.
Which reminds me, about the rats (or was it mice?) found in the Iowa henhouses of Wright County Egg - one of the two egg producers who gave us so much concern about Salmonella in our shell eggs in August of this year. Which also reminds me that I have been noticing quite a few of these generally unpopular critters coming up in the FDA's alerts, notices and recalls lately.
There were those rats found in the plant of the alfalfa producer who, after numerous warnings, was finally closed down. Then there was that Athens, Georgia food warehouse owned by Sun Hong Kai Holdings. Rats and mice were running all over the place, and jumping out of boxes at employees. (I won't go into details on how many dead/alive rats/mice and/or their droppings the inspectors found). After the FDA really got tough in August of this year, the workers were told to clean up the rats, their nests, urine, droppings etc. What they found was so bad that they ended up closing the warehouse (more unemployment).
More recent rats-in-food news has focused on rats in the food storage warehouses of a Nashville, Tennessee Lao Trading Company which distributes foods such as seafood items, tofu, canned fruits, vegetables and drinks, rice, rice sticks, fruit juice drinks, coconut milk, fish sauce and soy sauce in Tennessee. On October 27, the FDA announced that it has made the owner sign a "consent decree" - under which it promises to follow pest control practices, keep its warehouses in sanitary condition , and a few other things, to keep rats and nasty contaminants out. Until it did, it had to stop distributing food. Let's see if it does. By the way, it got into trouble for the same problem five years ago.
I am sure there are many recent cases I have missed. But that is probably enough: rodents like to be where there is food. Don't think they never get near our so-called safe food supply. And don't believe that inspectors catch all the cases. Next time you see little black things in your rice - throw it out.