2011-08-12 / Top Stories

Letting The Mouse Out Of The Bag

By Daniel Solomon

José and Socorro Rivera hold the tainted snack and the receipt. José and Socorro Rivera hold the tainted snack and the receipt. Socorro Rivera didn’t get exactly what she expected when she opened a bag of cheese-doodles last Saturday evening. The bag of Chester’s Puffcorn was purchased at the NSA Supermarket in the Dayton Plaza Shopping Center and something was mysteriously moving in it. Socorro and her husband, José Rivera, say that the something was a brown mouse, which scurried out from among the cheese-doodles while she was eating them, frightening her and causing him concern for his wife’s health.

Immediately, the Rockaway Beach couple went to the emergency room of St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, fearing that Socorro might have contracted an infection from the tainted snack. Doctors there told them that it was too early to see whether that was the case and they went home, still worried.

Now, the Riveras are angry and they blame the store for what happened, claiming that a mouse crawled into the bag through a hole they noticed after the incident. They want the supermar- ket, located on 87-15 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, to pay their medical bills and compensate them for the emotional distress they suffered. “She could have been exposed to any disease,” José said, speaking as Socorro sat beside him in an interview with The Wave this week. “I’ve already seen this kind of thing happen in Puerto Rico and a woman died,” he added. His wife promised that she “would not be shopping there anymore,” saying that she had previously seen vermin in the back of the store.

NSA co-managers, Evelyn and Omar, who declined to give their last names and who, the couple say, turned them away when they complained about the product, questioned the Riveras’ account of the story when reached for comment.

“Don’t you think they would have noticed if there was a live mouse in the bag,” Evelyn said, “maybe it came that way from the manufacturer?” She went on to wonder whether the whole incident was a scam and said that the supermarket had never had a similar situation. She also stated that she had offered José and Socorro store credit, but they had insisted on being given cash.

Omar, when asked about the couple’s charge that rodents were at the back of the building, initially said it was untrue and then seemed to concede the point, saying dismissively that “this is New York City, rats are everywhere.”

Afterward, no customers would agree to talk to The Wave.

The husband and wife say they’re unfazed by the denials of management and are determined to prove that they are right. In the next few days, the two plan to send the bag of cheese-doodles to the city’s Department of Health, so the agency can analyze the substances in the bag and provide evidence for their side of the story.

Still, Jose and Socorro say, this isn’t just about money. “What happened wasn’t right,” Socorro said. “We don’t want another person to go through that.”

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