By Brad Bumsted
Most Pennsylvanians would not be surprised to hear there are rats in the state Capitol. Since the 2005 middle-of-the-night pay grab there's been a growing awareness.
But rodents of a different sort were feasting at the Capitol cafeteria and it's hard to fathom how the employees who work there, and their managers, missed them.
On Dec. 17, inspectors from the state Department of Agriculture conducted a belated inspection of the cafeteria, where state officials from the governor on down eat lunch or breakfast. Schoolchildren from across the state eat there while touring the Capitol.
What the inspectors found was appalling - a "severe rodent infestation."
There were "rodent droppings too numerous to count throughout the entire facility," including areas where food is prepared and served.
There were mouse droppings "in bins with utensils, on choppers, surfaces of slicers and mixers, and in a bin with clean table cloths and aprons," according to the inspection report.
Moreover, employees apparently were eating in the dishroom area and some weren't following hand-washing procedures. "Black residue, pink slime" was observed on the interior of the ice machine bins, the report stated.
The cafeteria was shut down over Christmas and re-opened Monday last to a sparse crowd after the violations were corrected.