Food & Drink

A live rat in a meat slicer and a dead one under a shelf. Your grocers get inspected

A Family Dollar store among this edition of Gross Grocers has a severe rodent problem.
A Family Dollar store among this edition of Gross Grocers has a severe rodent problem. AP

Nobody wants rodents or roaches hanging out in the places that serve you food. What might be worse? Rodents pooping or roaches laying eggs in the food you bring home and put in your cabinets.

So, as with restaurants, there are state of Florida inspectors who make unannounced visits to those who sell groceries, from Publix to Presidente to the corner bodega to the mini-marts that really do sell gas station sushi. And, as seen below, these inspectors look for the scurrying critters and gunky equipment just as the restaurant inspectors do.

Without passion, prejudice but with an aisle of humor, let’s see which Miami-Dade places made our Gross Grocers report by getting Re-Inspection Required on last week’s inspection. Each such inspection states, “Reinspection visit is due to documented citations that pose a risk of foodborne illness.”

In alphabetical order:

Boss Investment 2013, 4202 NW 17th Ave., Miami — First, this place didn’t have its 2018 food permit. And that was before the inspection ended with “Establishment under Stop Use…”

At Boss Investment, maybe the boss should invest in some plumbing and pest control. Well, pest control more judiciously applied than the “green rodent poison pellets found on floor throughout retail area.” Those would be the apparently ineffective green rodent poison pellets: “Rodent droppings found on floor in several areas, also on grocery shelves and displays. Kitchen area, rodent droppings on floor, underneath prep table and along floor ... back area, rodent droppings on floor by bay door and unused toilet room.”

As for roaches, there was a live one on the kitchen floor and a dead one over a fryer.

Then there was the plumbing. “Evidence of backup sewage found inside hand sink in rear toilet room by bay door, inside three-compartment sink in the kitchen area, on drain floor by grease trap and in grease trap.” Also, “Kitchen area, hand sink not installed with proper drainage, making hand sink not useful for the proper hand wash by employees.”

Inside a reach-in cooler that didn’t work, there were “various lunch meats, cut lettuce, gallon of milk.” All got tossed.

They didn’t have any sanitizer for the washing utensils. The manager picked up some Germicidal Clorox during the inspection.

“Kitchen area, old, dry product residue on two frying pans stored on the floor.”

In the comments section, the inspector said, “Establishment under Stop Used until sewage system is repaired, no evidence of rodents or roaches, hot water installed at all hand sinks and three-compartment sink.”

Also, “Establishment not allowed to receive any new merchandise until inspector issues a release.” And, finally, “Establishment allowed to sell non-food items thru the window only.”

Eddy’s Bakery and Coffee’s Shop, 1561 Okeechobee Rd., Hialeah — Eddy’s didn’t seem to have a problem with little creatures as much as general sloppiness. Take the whole “clean hands” or “manos limpias” concept.

“Kitchen and retail areas, observed employees donning gloves not washing hands as required” and, once the gloves were on, “observed employee using the same gloves to perform different tasks.”

“Product residue” was found on the can opener and, in yellow form, on a slicer by the microwave. Both were cleaned, then cleared for action by the inspector.

The bread pudding from the previous day got tossed on a temperature violation, as did ham spread, ham and cheese minis and a sandwich, all of which were sitting on top of a too-warm counter.

Family Dollar, 19721 NW 37th Ave., Miami Gardens — Doubt the chain’s big bosses in Virginia and North Carolina would be thrilled to hear about the time we poured Family Dollar store brand frosted mini wheats (from another store) and found the frosting spotted with little bugs.

But we bet they’d rather hear about that than this inspection from Thursday, a re-inspection from Aug. 16.

The first violation detailed said, “Observed dead rodent on floor in third row under retail shelving.”

Also in the retail area, “Observed rodent excreta under multiple packaged food shelving units throughout retail area” and “Observed soil build-up and rodent excreta under retail shelving.”

If that was in the retail area, there’s no surprise the inspector saw in the backroom, “soil build-up and rodent excreta along walls and under storage equipment throughout storage and receiving room.”

And that’s why after the inspection, “A Stop-Use Order issued on receiving areas of the establishment and the establishment will no longer be allowed to receive additional food items until the infestation is eradicated.”

Family Dollar got a hint with the Aug. 16 inspection that opened with “observed three cases of Eatz potato chips on retail shelving with chew marks and soil stains.” Also on that inspection, “backroom observed two pest control glue traps with dead rodent attached.”

Laurenzo’s Italian-American Supermarket & Pastry Shop, 16385 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami Beach — The big question at Laurenzo’s: Where’s the rat?

Or mouse. After all, during the Aug. 15 inspection, the inspector saw “several food products with gnaw marks and holes in product packaging” and six dead mice on glue-board traps.

Then there was this: “Backroom: observed an alive large gray rat taking shelter within an idle meat slicer stored on shelf behind food products in backroom.”

Makes you look at the capicola a little differently doesn’t it?

Even without that living piece of evidence, the inspector still would have guessed Laurenzo’s was living with infestation. The inspector saw rodent poop all over the place in the retail area, processing area, deli area, seafood department, cake finishing room, backroom storage area and dry storage area.

Give it up for the work ethic on this inspector, who probably could’ve gone home right then. But the inspector stayed to spot “soil build-up and food debris” underneath shelving and along walls everywhere in the retail area, processing area, bakery, seafood department, cake finishing room, oh, heck, all the places the rat took a dump.

The inspector dropped a Stop Sale order on “ALL EXPOSED FOOD ITEMS” and a Stop Use Order on the receiving area and “ALL FOOD PROCESSING AT FOOD ESTABLISHMENT” including bakery, seafood, meat, processing and retail areas.

The re-inspection is scheduled for Sept. 13.

Matryoshka, 18100 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach — Matryoshka’s on Monday, Aug. 27, set the bar low for the rest of the week. It had to get better.

Handwashing doesn’t seem to be a priority there. A large garbage can sat in front of the handwashing sink next to ware wash sink. Neither the hand sink by the oven nor the one by the salad prep table included paper towels or soap.

Also, “Processing area, observed employees leaving and re-entering processing area not washing hands nor changing gloves prior to engaging to work with open foods.”

The inspector “observed old food residue throughout prep tables.” As for the food on the racks, the inspector “observed four speeds racks filled with several types of cooked foods being left at ambient temperature all day after cooking since 6 a.m.” So, out went salmon, fried chicken wings, breaded cooked shrimp, pork and meat balls. Also tossed for living too hot were cooked potatoes and cut-up boiled eggs.

In the deli area, you better hope that was Italian dressing because the inspector “observed no effective means of food guards protection on open platters of ready to eat foods stored on top of deli display case for sale.”

In the “processing area, observed insect control device installed on wall above prep table.” Hope none of the victims fell into the food.

We’re not sure whether this is cheap, creative cheap or lazy: “Food service area, observed cardboard being used as liners for ready to eat pastries.”

Also: “Kitchen processing area, observed solid and encrusted old food residue throughout floors under cold holding units, prep tables and coolers, food storage racks and food storage bins, throughout processing area.”

Routine, unannounced restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. These are the top ten violations found between 2015-16 in Florida restaurant kitchens.