Chinatown market avoids fine for rat infestation

Chinatown market avoids fine for rat infestation
Paul Min
Paul Min
Laurence Lau
Laurence Lau

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- "Look! Yikes! The size of them!".

Larry Geller's voice punctuates his video of rats roaming inside a Chinatown market. He taped rodents having a field day on fruit.

"I don't think I'll be buying any more bananas from this place," he said.

The place is Pacing's Market on Kekaulike street. The owner, Paciencia Edrada, didn't want to be interviewed.

Geller shot the after hours video last week. On Wednesday a health inspector found rat droppings and gnawed open food bags.

"From our point as regulators we look to the store first, not the landlord, not the pest control operator," state Health Department deputy director Laurence Lau said.

Lau said the Sanitation Branch inspector ordered Pacing's to clean up and store unsold food in rat proof containers.

Paul Min runs You Market in the same complex as Pacing's.

"If she kept it cleaner, more neater, it would not happen because nothing for them to eat," he said.

Min said most shop owners safeguard their food and said an exterminator visits once a month to set and check rat traps.

"It's just that it happened to have that video and everybody think, 'Oh, Chinatown, Rat City.' It's not," he said.

Friday the inspector went back to Pacing's and found that the owner followed instructions. Edrada avoided a $41,000 a day fine.

"We certainly reserve the right if we ever find a really bad situation to take immediate action in the form of legal action to the extent of even issuing an order to shut down," Lau said.

But the state can only routinely inspect a food establishment once every two years. Budget cuts reduced the number of inspectors from over twenty to nine. They handle over 5,000 food outlets.

Lau said consumers should wash fruits and vegetables no matter where they're purchased.

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