When the Cat's Away, You Have to Keep the Bread in the Freezer

Under New York City's health code, deli and grocery store owners can be fined for having rats on the premises. But they also can be fined for having cats, a cheap and effective way to kill and repel rats:

The city's health code and state law forbid animals in places where food or beverages are sold for human consumption. Fines range from $300 for a first offense to $2,000 or higher for subsequent offenses.

"Any animal around food presents a food contamination threat," said Robert M. Corrigan, a rodentologist and research scientist for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

As The New York Times notes, "the fine for rodent feces is also $300." Bodega owners seem to prefer the company of cats.

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  • Episiarch||

    Any animal around food presents a food contamination threat

    Last time I checked, humans were animals. Guess it's time to fire the staff.

  • Ska||

    Ummm.....not quite that fond of any sort of feces in my food prep areas - cat, rat, bird, etc. Am I supposed to be more content with cats contaminating my food.

    No, I'm not naive. I'm more than aware of the disgusting conditions at many (if not nearly all) restaurants, delis and other retail food operations. I think it's funny to pick one animal over another.

  • Robert||

    I miss Bob, the cat at Silver Deli & Grocery. Not just because he had my name, but because he was so friendly to me. They say he ran away.

  • ||

    I'll take a little Warfarin over hantavirus or toxoplasmosis, thanks.

  • Jennifer||

    If only grownups could be trusted to make their own decisions concerning whether or not they want to eat in a restaurant where cats may roam.

  • Rhywun||

    Asinine. A properly cared-for cat doesn't chew open packages and shit all over the place. It makes me proud that almost every deli I've been in has a cat, in defiance of the fascist pigs that run my city/state government.

  • ||

    Every day I eat in an establishment with FOUR cats roaming about. Yet, somehow, I survive.

    For those of you unable to distinguish between having a cat and a rat about, I have two words for you: bubonic plague.

    PS: This article should have been titled, "Hot Dog! When It Comes To Cooking I Am The Cat's Meow!"

  • ||

    You know, I have a dog that freely roams the room where most of the food I eat is prepared, yet somehow, we never get parasitic infections from him.

    Hmm, in fact, I would think that a significant fraction of the people who live in the U.S. do the same. yet, somehow, our hospitals are not overflowing with sick people.

    Obviously this is a hidden epidemic. People must be sick without realizing it. Perhaps we should have a federally funded task force to look into the problem.... One staffed by the wives, children, nieces or nephews of Congressmen.

  • ||

    legalization and regulation of store cats (!)

  • ||

    Good one, Henry.

  • Rhywun||

    "Any animal around food presents a food contamination threat,"

    I have to wonder if this government scientist had anything else to say on the issue (like say, "but some animals much more so than others..."), or if the government just took this sentence and ran with it.

  • ||

    If you keep a tiger in your store, losses from shoplifting will be reduced, as well.

  • Episiarch||

    If you keep a tiger in your store, losses from shoplifting will be reduced, as well.

    The Bronx Zoo has very low shoplifting losses.

  • dhex||

    i like it when i go into a bodega and there's a cat there. it means the roaches and mice are being preyed upon, as god intended.

  • ||

    Geez, this is simple, folks! Some animals, like cats and dogs, are easier to train and/or control than other animals, like rats or tigers. The store owner with a cat or dog still has the responsibility of controlling the cat or dog, but if it's an effective way of controlling the rats, then why not let 'em have them? Would the government regulators object if you had a goldfish in the store? How much risk of contamination is involved in that?

  • ||

    I don't care if a given restaurant has cats, rats, or caribou scurrying around in the back, so long as they post something in the front window so I can make an informed decision as to where to go to eat (allergies, dontcha know).

    (Actually, I'd probably brave the allergies to eat somewhere with the novelty value of caribou wandering around the kitchen.)

  • Rimfax||

    ...Mental Hygiene.

    WTF?

    I have difficulty seeing how an animal that doesn't crawl on the counter and through the cabinets and doesn't shit every three seconds presents a comparable risk to a rodent.

  • SIV||

    You know, I have a dog that freely roams the room where most of the food I eat is prepared, yet somehow, we never get parasitic infections from him.


    Are you sure?

    many people, especially adults infected by a small number of larvae (immature worms), may not notice any symptoms


  • VM||

    NY Health Authorities are against


    wait for it


    BIG PUSSY.

  • Rhywun||

    if it's an effective way of controlling the rats, then why not let 'em have them?

    Because the scientist said "any animal presents a threat"! Besides, if you want us to spend more money training our staff to distinguish one kind of animal from another, that'll cost you extra.

    - Gov't spokesperson

  • Episiarch||

    BIG PUSSY

    First they came for the big pussy. Then they came for the tight pussy. Then they came for the little pussy, i.e. Dondero.

  • SIV||

    %14 of Americans are infested with Toxocara worms which are spread by dogs and cats

    Alternate link for "liberaltarians" that don't believe anything they read in "Faux News".


    Standard libertarian disclaimer: Any health certification of grocers and restaurants should be voluntary and private. I buy tamales sold from the trunks of cars and barbecue cooked over fires in 55 gallon drums set up on vacant lots.

  • SIV||

    Any animal around food presents a food contamination threat

    Last time I checked, humans were animals. Guess it's time to fire the staff.


    Humans are the major cause of food contamination.

    I think they presume humans can read the signs in the bathroom saying "Employees must wash hands" and might actually obey them.
    Cats have zero compliance with that mandate.

  • jtuf||

    Rimfax | December 26, 2007, 12:20pm | #

    ...Mental Hygiene.

    WTF?



    They're in charge of brainwashing.

  • ||

    SIV -- the article you linked said that the diseases from cats and dogs are most prevalent among poor families, and the infections are likely contracted in the gigantic kitty litter boxes known as sandboxes at playgrounds.

    So you've convinced me to not buy food cooked by children (whose parents don't encourage frequent handwashing) inside giant kitty litter boxes -- OTOH, having pet dogs or cats in restaurants that patrons willingly eat at is fine with me.

  • ||

  • ||

    Metal Hygiene:

    Girls wash your boys. We'll get clean, clean, clean.

  • ||

    I think they presume humans can read the signs in the bathroom saying "Employees must wash hands" and might actually obey them.
    Cats have zero compliance with that mandate.


    Dunno, SIV, I don't usually eat at restaurants that employ cats and dogs as waiters and cooks. Maybe you do. since that way, you wouldn't be encouraging them to hire immigrants.

    Won't someone PUH-LEEZE stop all the wetcats sneaking across the border and stealing Ahr Jarbs TM?

  • Episiarch||

    Girls wash your boys. We'll get clean, clean, clean.

    Kevin DuBrow, is that you? I knew you were still alive!

  • Franklin Harris||

    Customer: Nice cat. What's his name?

    Clerk: "Annoying Customer."

    Customer: Fuck you.

  • Russell||

    Mayor Bloomberg has sold out to Big Rat Diaper?

  • ||

    NY Health Authorities are against


    wait for it


    BIG PUSSY.




    Well, golly; who isn't?

  • SIV||

    prolefeed,

    I haven't looked at the study but I expect they focus on poor children as that was their sample. Are you tested for toxocara infection as part of your routine "healthcare"?

    I'm looking at the numbers based on the news report. %14 of US population infected and "up to %23 of poor urban black children". Extrapolating the figure to all poor children

  • SIV||

    continued


    %23 doesn't add up to %14 of the population
    so their should be plenty of people of other social classes and ages infested with toxocara roundworms. Pet owners should be the best represented.

    Less than sign is read as html tag.

  • SIV||

    You learn something new everyday...

    I have heard that if you have mice in your apartment you will not have rats as the two species do not co-habit in the same area. Is that true? I also heard that orange oil is a smell these critters avoid like the plague.

    Posted by Mr.radiotube
    Answer:

    In a majority of cases inside city buildings, this is true. The rat is a formidable enemy of the mouse. However, should apartments, restaurants, hotels, and so forth become messy with food and shelter, rats will become much less aggressive towards the mouse (after all, there is plenty to go around). In these situations, the mice will usually be active only during the time the rats are not, or the mouse will forage in spaces different from those used by the rat.


    From the Rodentologist Corrigan cited in the story.

  • thoreau||

    If you keep a tiger in your store, losses from shoplifting will be reduced, as well.

    I've got this rock....

  • M||

    Girls wash your boys. We'll get clean, clean, clean.



    Google got me as far as an asparagus recipe to (not) decipher that reference, but on the subject of invoking the constabulary to regulate avant-garde hygienic practices for their wholesomeness factor...


  • ||

    "The whole premise of the skit is questionable," Ms. Metz said. "I see no purpose that it would serve, especially not in a Christian youth group setting. It's perverse."

    Come along, Mrs Metz; the pretty tiger is right through that door.

  • ||

    SIV -- I agree that people who are not poor also have children who play in sandboxes frequented by cats, or pet their cats and dogs and then eat or cook food without washing their hands. And, if you have cats or dogs roaming a restaurant, and the employees pet them and then handle food without washing, some animal-borne illnesses can be transmitted, just as human-borne illnesses can be transmitted by employees who don't wash their hands after using the restroom.

    It is a manageable problem -- a matter of the owners communicating and enforcing proper hygiene among their employees. I don't see how this would lead anyone committed to freedom to agree with laws or regulations banning people from patronizing restaurants that have cats or dogs on the premises, if the patrons are aware of the practice and want to take that risk. I could live with laws requiring restaurants to disclose that they allow pets on the premises.

  • ||

    M,

    Replace wash with rock and clean with wild and you'll find it.

    Also, in honor of your namesake, here a small tribute.

  • Rhywun||

    M,

    Google "Ratt".

  • ||

    Google "Ratt".

    Rhywun,

    The Metal Police called and they'd like a word with you.

  • M||

    de stijl, thank you (I think). I take it that composition post-dates Brahms, which is why it wasn't readily available to me. And had you not pointed out the eponymy, I would have missed it, since the pronunciation is so different.

    Now what about the pretty tiger reference? I think I'm getting too dumb for H&R.

  • Rhywun||

    Nuts, I always confuse those two. Plus, we're talking about rats...

  • M||

    The Metal Police? Clearly they came after the Bronze Age, when the best had been done already. O tempora...

  • SIV||

    pf,

    See my standard libertarian disclaimer above.
    I don't think we should have laws in this matter at all except perhaps against fraudulently claiming private inspection.

    My point is that cats and other animals do harbor disease that can be spread to humans. The diseases and parasites don't confine themselves to the poor or unclean but thrive wherever there is opportunity.

    I'll bet the %14 Toxocara infection rate is much lower than actually exists.Physical examinations of "middle class" people don't routinely test for parasites.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Cats and food don't mix.

    Try the blender. Or a good food processor.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I can attest to the absolute ruthless efficiency of cats v rodents and other assorted vermin.

    At one time the rats and ground squirrels were so relentless as to clear an entire peach tree of fruit in 24 hours. They'd eat every last blossom on both orange trees leaving the trees looking like they were hit by a plague of locusts.

    Then came THE NEW CATS (insert timpani sound here). The tag team of the black cat with the bent up tail and his brother the Siamese-looking cat with on white foot.

    I was impressed with my gray cat slapping the rattlesnake silly. These two literally ripped the snake in half, leaving both halves on the porch. And we got us some nice fresh oranges.

  • Cara Lutetia||

    SIV,

    I think it depends on the animal and the type of facility involved. For example, while this doesn't involve an individual restaraunt, in general given the current knowledge I have of the subject I don't have that much of a problem with the regulation of food processing facilities.

  • Episiarch||

    Rhywun,

    The Metal Police called and they'd like a word with you.


    Also, Randy Rhoads' ghost is looking for you.

  • Rhywun||

    I can attest to the absolute ruthless efficiency of cats v rodents and other assorted vermin.

    You must be not talking about the fancified indoor cats I'm used to. Mine wouldn't harm anything larger than a fly. I've caught one playing with a mouse, just kind of batting it around but not causing any serious harm. Fortunately, most vermin don't catch on that indoor cats are such wimps. The cats do their job just by being there.

  • Rhywun||

    Also, Randy Rhoads' ghost is looking for you.

    Well, I was never a big Quiet Riot fan but "Blizzard of Ozz" is one of my all-time favorites so I THINK NOT.

  • Jennifer||

    I'll bet the %14 Toxocara infection rate is much lower than actually exists.Physical examinations of "middle class" people don't routinely test for parasites.

    Seeing as how I haven't heard of any Toxocara epidemic killing vast numbers of middle-class Americans, I'd say the lack of examination isn't much of a problem.

    My friend tells me that her four-year-old wasn't tested for STDs during her last pediatric visit, either. Sounds like a safe oversight.

  • BakedPenguin||

    If you keep a tiger in your store, losses from shoplifting will be reduced, as well.



    ...and the tiger will eat the banana, thus disarming your assailant.

  • SIV||

    Seeing as how I haven't heard of any Toxocara epidemic killing vast numbers of middle-class Americans, I'd say the lack of examination isn't much of a problem.

    Jennifer,

    I guess that is why you don't get tested for chlamydia.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Oops. That should have been raspberries.

  • SIV||

    Adult worms of the Toxocara family often live in the small intestine of dogs and cats. They range from 4-12 cm in length. Almost all puppies are infected at or soon after birth. During the summer, Toxocara infective eggs are shed. They survive for years in the environment, and humans typically ingest the eggs orally by eating with contaminated hands. Once introduced into the human intestine, the eggs develop into larvae. The larval form is less than 0.5 mm in length and 0.02 mm wide. The larvae penetrate the bowel wall and migrate through blood vessels to reach the liver, muscles, and lungs. Sometimes the parasite penetrates into the eye and brain.

    Disease severity is affected by the number of eggs ingested, duration of infection, tissue location of larvae, and the immune response to the infection

    Why worry?

  • ||

    Why worry?

    You could be devoured by a tiger long before the toxocara reach your brain.

  • robc||

    I recommend those of you squeamish about animals around your food prep never look into how lambic beers are made. Cantillon had some cats roaming around (of more interest/disgust are the cobwebs over the open wort). Spontaneous Fermentation!!!

  • Joe Horn||

    You could be devoured by a tiger long before the toxocara reach your brain.

    Like I'm gonna listen to that damn fool 911 operator telling me not to shoot the tiger.

  • Cara Lutetia||

    As with any disease vector its potential risk depends on a number of factors including the individual who comes in contact with that vector. Ergo, someone whose immune system is compromised in some fashion may wish to avoid contact with cats since Toxoplasmosis can be far more problematic for them than for a healthy person.

  • SIV||

    Cara,

    Toxoplasmosis is not toxocariasis

    minor point as they are both parasitic infections humans can contract from animals. The dangers for
    "healthy persons" from either is not really known.

  • Cara Lutetia||

    SIV,

    I didn't mean to imply that they were.

  • ||

    Jennifer wrote: "If only grownups could be trusted to make their own decisions concerning whether or not they want to eat in a restaurant where cats may roam."

    If only restaurants could be trusted to be transparent about the kinds of animal that roam within their walls.

  • Brandybuck||

    For some people, not even laws banning cats are enough to clue them in that government has gotten too big.

    "Allow cats in delis? That's terrifyingly anarchist! Next you will be lobbying to remove safety shields from bologna slicers!"

  • ||

    If only restaurants could be trusted to be transparent about the kinds of animal that roam within their walls.

    Yep, we gots roaches, flies, no mice, though - the rats took care of them. Also, there's some raccoons and opossums getting into our garbage when we don't put the cinder blocks on the lids.

    Absolutely no cats, though - that would be a health risk.

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