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Manhattan Starbucks Accused of Using Toxic Pesticides Near Food in New Lawsuit

Starbucks allegedly used the pesticides to fight off maggots — and refused to stop when asked, the lawsuit alleges

Starbucks Reports Quarterly Earnings Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Starbucks stores across Manhattan have been accused of using dangerous pesticides to combat “disgusting” conditions in their kitchens — which have given way to pest infestations like flies, cockroaches, maggots, and silverfish, according to a new lawsuit.

The suit filed by a group of Starbucks customers claims that the company uses a product called “Hot Shot No-Pest strips” to get rid of the pests, and it happens to contain Dichlorvos, or DDVP, a neurotoxic agent that shouldn’t be used indoors, let alone near food. Exposure to the chemical can cause nausea, diarrhea, paralysis, and even death, the suit alleges.

The coffee giant said Tuesday that the harmful pesticide strips were removed from all of the company’s cafes and that the stores are safe. A spokesperson tells the Post that the complaint lacks merit, adding that it’s a scare tactic to steer customers away from the chain.

But the lawsuit claims that Starbucks has “recklessly” allowed its employees to use the toxic pesticide inside its stores instead of tackling the poor sanitation issues head-on, the Post reports. Photos obtained by Gothamist show heaps of maggots and fruit fly eggs behind the coffee bar at a Manhattan store, as well as black mold.

Attorney David Gottlieb, who is representing the customers behind the suit, claims the company repeatedly ignored warnings about the pesticide as recently as last year. A second related lawsuit filed by two exterminators and a former store manager claims Starbucks stores were warned against the toxic product several times between 2016 and 2018 — but that Starbucks allegedly fired the manager and stopped working with the exterminators following the warnings.