ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the second time this year, a Smith’s grocery store has closed its doors after the City of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department discovered newfound health code violations.
“The complaints that we got had to do with insect issues and just quality of the fresh produce that was out,” said Mark DiMenna, deputy director of the Environmental Health Department, about Smith’s located on Wyoming and Paseo Del Norte. “It was past its prime, so, stuff that was starting to break down, probably [was] no longer fit for human consumption.”
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KRQE News 13 spoke to local resident and Smith’s frequent shopper, Shoshanah McKinley, who was on her way to the store Tuesday morning with her child. “We just got back into town from Labor Day weekend, and I just wanted to go grocery shopping because we didn’t have anything at the house,” said McKinley.
She needed to grab everyday items for her family, but when she got to the entrance, a sign stopped her from going inside. The sign was bright neon orange and read, “Closed, by order of City of Albuquerque…,” forcing McKinley to make a different choice.
After learning about the violations, McKinley said she will probably take a break from Smith’s for now. “I think Albertson’s will be my go-to for a little bit,” McKinley said.
Earlier this summer, in June, the Smith’s location on Eubank and Juan Tabo was also forced to shut its doors after customers sent complaints to the city about seeing mice in the store. City health officials said that the Smith’s location on Wyoming fell under their radar after reports were made to the department about how the produce looked, and concerns about insects.
“We had been out there to investigate a complaint we had received,” DiMenna said. “That complaint was initially substantiated and then [in] doing a wider inspection of the store we found some additional conditions.”
After the initial complaints were confirmed, the department investigated further, saying they found poor storage management and rodent droppings in the store which shut operations down. “The reason it went from a partial closure around the produce and storage and stuff to a full closure was because of the rodent droppings,” DiMenna said.
The city said an inspector was on location Tuesday, looking over the progress that has been made since the closure Friday evening. Health officials suggest the lack of available cleaning staff for food providers city-wide is a big reason for these violations.
DiMenna said he wouldn’t be surprised if the store partially re-opened for business Tuesday evening, with a full re-opening expected in the coming days.
News 13 reached out to Smith’s for a comment about the topic but did not receive a response.