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Insects in Billings Rimrock Mall food court prompt health department complaints

Posted at 7:04 PM, Oct 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-22 16:15:22-04

Rimrock Mall management and RiverStone Health officials are searching for solutions after a video went viral on social media showing insects crawling under a common area table in the food court.

The video was posted Sunday afternoon, and shows around two dozen unidentified insects crawling underneath a table.

The health department, which regulates restaurant cleanliness in Yellowstone County, has received two formal complaints about the issue at the mall since Sunday.

“We received some complaints in regards to some concerns over some potential issues with pests in the mall," said Riverstone Environmental Health Services program manager Clark Snyder Monday afternoon.

Snyder said health department staff have not made it over to the mall since the insect problem has been raised but they will "investigate as soon as possible."

Snyder said the health department is in contact with Rimrock Mall management. A meeting is scheduled later this week with mall management and food court restaurant owners to discuss the insect problem.

At that meeting the group will "first, identify if there is actually an issue going on. And then if there is, we'll come up with a plan to resolve that issue,” Snyder said.

Rimrock Mall marketing manager Daron Olson said the mall conducts regular exterminations and is meeting the health department to address the problem.

"A safe and clean environment is a top priority at Rimrock Mall. Per health codes, we do conduct monthly exterminations throughout all of our common areas. When this issue was brought to our attention, we immediately responded and coordinated efforts with our tenants, extermination team and RiverStone Health. Further coordination with Riverstone Health is also underway," he said in a statement.

The mall is owned by Chicago-based Starwood Retail Partners.

Snyder said the solution may involve the health department, pest management services, mall management and restaurant owners if necessary.

A search of the restaurant inspection reports for those eateries in the mall food court shows no violations related to insects in 2019. Those restaurants include: Bob's Pizza, Flaming Wok, Neon Pretzel, Asian Fusion, Mountain Mudd Espresso and India Grill.

Billings does not "grade" restaurants with an A through F rating for their cleanliness. Instead, it operates on a violation-based system. Depending on the complexity of a restaurant's menu, it will receive between one and two regular inspections from the health department.

If a violation is found, Snyder said the health department will work with the restaurant to fix it. After that, the health department will follow up with another inspection to confirm the violation has been fixed.