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A ‘no mouse in this house’ strategy

Pinkberry had an unfortunate visit from a couple of mice at one of its New York City units this summer, and the incident was caught on tape and made the local news. Ever since, the Los Angeles-based treat shop operator has been vigilant in protecting its four New York units from further unwelcome visits.

All openings in the walls of each store, no matter how small, have been sealed, sometimes with steel caps, said Dane Morrissey, area director for 4sunkids inc., Pinkberry’s New York franchisee.

“You can be spotless, but if you don’t remove the access points, they can still come in,” he said. “We opened every cabinet and pulled out everything from the wall. Every outlet was checked. Ever pipe was sealed. Gaps around the doors were filled with weather stripping.”

With the help of the company’s exterminator, who now makes twice-weekly inspections, Morrissey developed a new sanitation protocol that involves not only cleaning under refrigerators, but pulling them out daily to clean behind them. The company purchased flashlights to better check hard-to-reach areas for crumbs or stray fruit pieces.

Morrissey said he chose a small, local exterminator because he can reach the principal easily. “I speak with him every week,” he said. “They got very involved.”

The footage of the mice followed the scandal at a franchised KFC/Taco Bell in Manhattan last winter where rats were caught running rampant after passing an inspection by the New York City Health Department.

Pinkberry was not shut down, but its owners closed for a day to address the problem, Morrissey said. The incident has sparked frequent visits from the Health Department, and Pinkberry has passed each inspection, he said.

Separately, the chain has food safety initiatives to handle the large volume of fresh fruit it sells for yogurt toppings. Crew members are asked to not wear jewelry, and nail polish is forbidden lest it flake off in the product. There are dedicated fruit cutters, who keep their knives in one place. Because fruit can be a hazard on the floor, employees are constantly mopping, and picking up spills to prevent against slips and falls.

Cutting boards are sanitized throughout the day. If an employee walks away from their cutting board, the board goes into the sink.

Morrissey said the mice incident did not bite into business at the super-busy chain. “We did not see a tick down at all,” he said, with a note of wonder—and relief—in his voice.

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