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The Pusateri's Fine Foods location at Avenue Road and Lawrence Avenue is photographed April 15, 2004.

Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail/Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail

A high-end grocery store on Avenue Road was forced to close its doors Thursday after health inspectors discovered it was infested with cockroaches and found "heavy rodent activity."

Pusateri's Fine Foods specializes in gourmet meats, chocolates, cheese and produce, and operates three locations in Toronto. Only the Avenue Road location was affected.

Inspectors ordered the store closed Thursday afternoon, citing pest infestation and poor sanitation, a spokeswoman for Toronto Public Health wrote in an e-mail.

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"It is up to the operator to improve their services and arrange a re-inspection with the Public Health Inspector," Rishma Govani wrote.

Toronto Public Health had initially said the pest infestation included rats, but Ms. Govani later said inspectors found "heavy rodent activity" including mice droppings, but not rats.

A news release sent on the store's behalf indicated that part of the storage area, the walk-in coolers and some other locations were infested as a result of "human error." It said the public areas of the store were not affected.

Calls to the grocery-store chain were not immediately returned. A switchboard operator said she had been instructed to refer all inquiries to the chain's public-relations firm.

The business passed its last health inspection on Aug. 30, said Shawn Rusich, from Butter Public Relations. "They've been exceptionally sterile for 25 years of service," he added.

Pusateri's Fine Foods closed its Avenue Road store at 3 p.m. on Thursday to empty the shop's contents and thoroughly clean the interior. "They're hoping to be back by Saturday at the latest," Mr. Rusich said.

In addition to the pest infestation, inspectors said the grocery store had significant infractions for failing to provide cleaning supplies at sinks and an easily readable thermometer. Minor infractions included poor maintenance of rooms and failing to properly wash surfaces and equipment.

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The chain's other stores in Yorkville and at Bayview Village Shopping Centre remain open.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Kim Mackrael has been a reporter for The Globe and Mail since 2011. She joined the Ottawa bureau Sept. 2012. More

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