What Should You Actually Do When You Get a Rat in Your Wrap or a Frog In Your Salad?

Chopt-line-post-rat.jpg
Photo by Jack Buehrer, who didn't have lunch there
An out-the-door lunchtime line at Chop't on July 9, the day after the Rat Wrap story broke.
Another month, another soul-destroyingly disgusting foreign object in some poor unfortunate diner's food. On Tuesday, Gothamist brought us the story of the Rat Wrap, in which some anonymous guy at a law firm apparently ordered lunch delivered from Chop't on Pine Street in the Financial District and got an extra party favor, in the form of a whole damn rodent tucked away amongst the lettuce. (It looks like a mouse to us, but we'll bow to the alliterative superiority of the term "Rat Wrap.") Two of his colleagues tweeted about the incident, one with a stomach-turning photo, and RatGate was born.

This is, as you might recall, the second story in six months that Gothamist has brought us about horrible food extras: back in December, the same reporter, Nell Casey, got a tip about a frog in someone's Pret a Manger salad.

There are two possible things at play, here: 1: Gothamist reporter Nell Casey is putting horrible stuff in people's food for blog material, or 2: Occasionally, an un-fun extra makes its way into even the most innocuous of foodstuffs. For people who let others prepare their food as much as New Yorkers do, these incidents, rare though they are, tap into a deep-seated anxiety about cleanliness.

In the case of the Frog Salad, Pret a Manger issued a statement saying they were "looking into the matter" and didn't comment further. But Chop't co-founder Tony Shure seemed stricken by the whole thing, tweeting a series of apologies at the people who tweeted the rat photo, along with his phone number:

Shure did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Voice. It's still not clear how the rat ended up in the delivery (also not clear how the rat ended up there whole. Those people at Chop't take their name very seriously. Those salads are pulverized.)

After the media furor started, both people who had tweeted about the rat quickly deleted those tweets, although one of them, Julia Casteleiro, did add this:

Chop't also issued two statements on its website, the first saying they'd closed the facility for the day and called the Health Department for an immediate inspection. The second said there was no evidence of "rodent activity" anywhere in the restaurant, adding: "[T]he company is now conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of this unfortunate incident.
Reports that a disgruntled employee was involved in this incident are completely false."

A Health Department spokesperson confirmed that with us via email: "The owners of Chop't closed the establishment voluntarily and requested an inspection, which was conducted this morning. We found no evidence of vermin or conditions conducive to vermin, and they re-opened." At lunchtime, as you can see from the above photo, there was, as always, a line out the door.

So what should you do if you face your own rat-in-the-mayo situation? The Health Department would really, really appreciate it if you called 311, in addition to or maybe even before tweeting about the incident: "If a customer finds a foreign object in their food, they should call 311 to file a complaint and alert the restaurant."

But we know what you're really thinking, in your innermost heart where bad thoughts live: should you sue? Should you sue for a lot of money? (No one involved in the Chop't incident has spoken about suing; the person who actually ordered the Rat Wrap hasn't been identified. We're only speaking hypothetically here.)

Craig Rosenbaum is an attorney at Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, a personal injury and medical malpractice firm. He too would recommend calling the Health Department before speed-dialing a lawyer or informing the Internet: "I'd have no problem with someone tweeting this out. But to me it's more important that these restaurants clean it up a little bit. I mean, we all eat there."

Rosenbaum is also not sure how effective a lawsuit would be in the case of finding something gross in your food before you consume it, although he stressed that he'd need to know more about the details of a particular incident to know whether someone had a strong case.

"With any lawsuit, you have liability and damages," he adds. "Liability meaning someone who's wrong, damages meaning what happened to you. Obviously there's liability in that an employee allowed a frog, a rat, whatever, to get into the sandwich or salad. But are there damages? Is someone injured? You don't have a personal injury action unless you're injured. I'm disgusted, but am I really damaged? That might be for a jury to tell me. If I take a bite and eat the head of a rat and swallow it, I'm clearly more damaged than if I just saw the head of it on my plate."

We certainly feel damaged just by thinking about it. Let's all just skip lunch forever.


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29 comments
Rayne Macy
Rayne Macy

beer store...fun childhood memories..lol...

Rayne Macy
Rayne Macy

guy at a law firm got a rat in his lunch? hmm..tony w'at'd'ya t'ink?

Natalie J. Belle
Natalie J. Belle

I cook at home and pack my lunch. I am just to the point that I don't trust restaurants (now bars and drinking are another matter entirely).

Ted Cantu
Ted Cantu

Theres a wrong way to respond? LOL.. REALLY NEW YORK?

David Moss
David Moss

Their are huge lines because they give salad away. Food can be decent if the person who made it wasn't too "disabled". Oh yeah, New Yorkers must HATE the fact that they give jobs to people whom no one else will hire. Because if you aren't the best of the best, why the fuck should u be able to work??

Patrick Lew
Patrick Lew

I genuinely do not understand why there are always huge lines outside of Chop't -- they serve some painfully mediocre salads.

Debbie Erickson
Debbie Erickson

Not eat the food because if it kills a rat it must be really BAD!!! :)

Gemma M Barriteau
Gemma M Barriteau

Report the business to the Health department, get my money back, and never eat there again.

frank124c
frank124c topcommenter

I once found a dead cockroach in a jar of peanut butter I bought in a supermarket. Needless to say I never went back to that supermarket.

Frank Ramirez
Frank Ramirez

Sounds like a hoax to me, but it does hit at a very deep, primitive, revulsion to what's stomach churning. The dead rat, in lots of ways, represents what we try to avoid: disease. It's not for naught, that rats have been the harbinger of doom for quite sometime. No mention of the "Black Death" is complete without mentioning them. This stunt, which was greeted by quick and efficient actions by the owner of this establishment, seems to have fizzled out...but the warning should not: be careful of what you eat, for it could be bad for you and cause sickness.

Brian Niemiec
Brian Niemiec

Joey Solimando keep on ordering from here. Andrew Goldstein

Brandon Fizer
Brandon Fizer

The midtown lunch grind. Oh, how I do not miss thee.

Robert Page
Robert Page

That's why you always tip well folks

Zach Wood
Zach Wood

I'd probably remove the dead rodent before eating it.

Scott Conners
Scott Conners

they have terrible take out service, always screwing up the orders or forgetting something - not surprised this happened - yet people continue to order from them for lunch at offices I've worked at

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