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Wild Oats = Wild Gross (UPDATED X2)

MouseI'll accept that rodents aren't criminals and therefore may not belong on a crime blog. Where do they belong? Scurrying through dark subway tunnels, perhaps; out of sight, definitely.

So humor me for a few more brief sentences about a crime against humanity I witnessed today: Mice in the supermarket.

I saw four to six of 'em rummaging through a box of English muffins on the bread shelf at the Wild Oats on Alton Road in South Beach -- a store I (used to) frequent every other day or so.

Without freaking out, I quickly told the first employee I could find, a meat department worker. I brought him over and showed him the mice, who were still going nuts tearing through what was left of those English muffins. Unflapped, the guy said, "Thanks," and went back to the meat counter. (I told a manager, too, but she was no more hurried to action than the meat guy.)

Should I have made a scene and warned all the poor customers to go to Publix instead? Nah, not appropriate. But I did think the right thing was to file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which regulates grocery stores.

Maybe the people behind Whole Foods, which recently bought Wild Oats, will clean up the place and get rid of the rodents. Sorry, Mickey.

*Update: Teresa Charleton, the team leader of the South Beach Wild Oats, replied within hours to an e-mail I sent via the store's website. She apologized for the lax reaction of the employees I informed about the mice, and she said they took immediate action to remedy the problem: They called a pest-control company and pulled all bread from the shelves where I saw the rodents. In Charleton's words, "We will take any necessary measures to ensure that this does not happen again."

**Update part II: The state food inspectors got back to me Monday with this e-mail: "Thank you for the information. We will notify our supervisor in the Miami area to investigate this firm in regards to your complaint and properly address the situation. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Regards, Food Inspection"

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