Food & Drink

Rodent poop on dog food in two stores. Handwashing issues. Grocers fail inspections.

Did this Kwik Stop make this edition of Gross Grocers? Or, was it another one?
Did this Kwik Stop make this edition of Gross Grocers? Or, was it another one?

As we get into this edition of Gross Grocers, if you wonder why inspectors of food handling businesses focus so much on hand washing, consider just one possible problem — Florida’s growing hepatitis A situation.

“The (hepatitis A virus) is present in an infected person’s stools and can be carried on an infected person’s hands, especially if no proper hand washing or hygiene practices are performed,” the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade explained Feb. 15 in announcing a Miami restaurant worker had hep A. “Therefore, the disease can be spread when a person eats food or drinks beverages that have been handled by a person infected with HAV without healthy or proper hygiene practices.”

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Now to the Department of Agriculture’s inspections of food sellers, food distributors and food storage facilities in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties. We don’t control who gets inspected or how strictly. We report without passion or prejudice but with a handbasket of humor.

In alphabetical order:

Avanti Nutritional Laboratories, 14760 NW 60th Ave., Miami Lakes — Avanti is classified as a “Non perishable Processor.” Still, that’s no excuse for no handwashing sink in a wash room. The inspector felt the same way here and was not thrilled about no soap or paper towels at the back handwashing sink.

Carniceria Argentina, 5999 W. 16th Ave., Hialeah — OK, we’ll get off the handwashing for a bit to give you some ready-to-eat strawberries with mold spots in the walk-in cooler.

And, in the backroom, “observed flies and gnats too numerous to count throughout.”

The meat place run by Mario Graziano that shares an address with Graziano’s Market must be busy.

Too busy to clean equipment, judging by “two stand mixers and hand mixer encrusted with old dough residue on the underside of the blade attachment and stuck-on old dough residue inside the canal to the churro maker.”

And “deli slicer encrusted with old food residue on the blade from the previous day indicated by employee. Found meat grinder encrusted with old rust and food residue inside the grinding canal of equipment, and band saw encrusted with old food residue on the interior bottom corner of the blade.”

The amount of food that got tossed for being kept at temperatures that could turn them into disease boats could keep a Friday night bongo jam fat and happy: blood sausage; chorizo; bonbon sausage; marinated chicken quarters; chorizo picante; salchacha parillera; eye round beef; beef tenderloin; pork ribs; tomahawk steak; beef ribs; Swiss cheese; havarti cheese; gouda cheese; Ham and cheese torta; spinach torta; chicken and egg torta; napoleon pastry; italian ham and cheese; anchovies salad; red pepper ricota; turkey and cheese sandwich; and ham and cheese croissant.

OK, now to the handwashing problems.

You couldn’t get to the backroom handwash sink for all the storage racks. The inspector took diligent notes on this violation of good hygiene.

“Witnessed employee receive an order from a customer; reach into cold holding unit; place beef tenderloin onto cutting board; use bare hands and knife to slice beef; obtained packaging material; give product to customer; wipe hands and cutting board with dry wiping cloth; wipe hands on waist band of pants; and attempt to touch other things within the meat department without washing hands.”

Family Hernandez Colon, 405 E. Okeechobee Rd., Hialeah — The inspector saw a kitchen employee prepare the warewash sink’s chlorine sanitizer, then go back to cooking, grab beans and brought them up to her mouth and keep cooking. Same gloves the whole time.

Other complaints: Food employee not washing her hands before donning gloves to engage in cooking and food service, food employee exiting and entering the area and continue to work with open foods and not wash her hands. Cafe, food employee did not wash her hands immediately before engaging in open food service.

Of course, if they wanted to wash hands in the kitchen, there was no soap at the handsink.

“A deli slicer was found with old yellow food residue around the blade and on the push tool, band-saw found with old yellow/brown food residue on top wheel, on saw corners and on actual band blade, grinder found with old meat residue inside the canal, and on cutting plate.” The inspector dropped a Stop Use on the band-saw and on a reach-in cooler that didn’t cool things enough.

They had to toss a large pot of black beans made the night before. Not cool enough. Cool as in temperature, not cool as in Mongo Santamaria. Same for packs of hot dogs and bologna on the shelves.

Harvest Valley, 5151 NW 165th St., Northwest Miami-Dade — What’s worse? That Inspector Manuel Uribe saw “exposed rodent poison next to boxes containing packets of soy sauce” in the front dry storage area?

Or that said poison seemed of limited effectiveness? “Observed dead rodent next to door to cooler No. 1 located by front dry storage area.”

Uribe also observed “rodent excreta in dry storage rooms Nos. 2, 4 and 5. Also found rodent excreta throughout back receiving area.”

In dry storage room No. 1, there was a “bag of blanched peanuts and several bags of pasta that were gnawed by rodent. Also, found rodent excreta inside an opened box containing single-use serving trays , as well as, found bags of raw carrots with rodent excreta on top of bags.”

Again, which one bothers you more? No hot water in the men’s employee restroom handwashing sink? Or “damaged foods held for credits not kept segregated from wholesome foods inside of walk-in refrigerator?”

It all bothered Uribe, who noted the soft self-analysis going on in the Valley. “Sanitation records with a satisfactory check that do not reflect the conditions of the facility during time of inspection, specifically for; exclusion of pests, safety of water, condition and cleanliness of food contact equipment, and hand washing facilities.”

As for the Hazard Anaysis and Critical Control Points plan for dealing with salmon, Uribe didn’t like any of it.

Kmart, 1201 Dixie Hwy., Lantana — “Observed rodent droppings on all shelving near dog food, green plastic bins, on shelving with air fresheners, on floors under shelving.”

And, in the backroom, “live rodents found on trap in old pantry stock room.”

If they find any pest infestation on the next inspection, a Stop-Use Order will be issued on all receiving areas and Kmart will be pretty much out of the food business. As if this place doesn’t have enough problems with Sears/Kmart stores being as close to extinction as the Florida panther in the wild or the Florida Panthers in the NHL playoff race.

“It is believed the food establishment has been aware of the concern,” the inspector wrote. “The food establishment has acquired an “every other day” pest control company, replaced ceiling tiles, inquired about more funds in order to eradicate the problem.”

Kwik Stop, 18198 NE 19th Ave., North Miami Beach — An inspection of a Kwik Stop is rarely a quick stop.

Hey, the four-legged furries who aren’t dogs are into the dog food here, too: rodent excreta on dog food dry storage shelf at entrance of back room adjacent to ice machine.

Also in the backroom, “multiple fruit flies at mop sink to numerous to count” and “unisex employee restroom opening directly to three-compartment sink and food service prep area.”

That’s just the kind of aroma you want wafting over food. And you know they’re washing their hands well — whoops, the handwashing sink at the three-compartment sink was blocked by two ladders. Up at the food service area, the handwashing sink lacked soap or hand towels.

Also, if you ate something there that felt like it had a little too much texture, maybe it’s because “hanging lights over steam table not shielded and appearing to not be shatter proof.”

Prime Liquors, 5026 Seminole Pratt Whitney Rd., Loxahatchee — They haven’t installed a service sink since the Jan. 15 inspection.

Ruby Wholesale, 8233 Gator Lane, West Palm Beach — Classified as a “major food distributor,” there’s some major plumbing problems.

Before we get to those, know that “the business operates with the overhead door open. Dead ant-like insects observed on the gasket and under the lid of the chest freezer that is holding frozen boiled peanuts.”

Back to the plumbing. No hot water in the employee restroom. No hot or cold running water at the mop sink (the owner is waiting for the plumber to install the hot water heater). The AC drain’s wastewater “is plumbed into a 5-gallon plastic jug.”

The mop sink problem is a rerun from the Jan. 15 inspection. That inspection says “violation was cited on the last inspection,” which was Oct. 15, 2014. Maybe the Dept. of Agriculture ought to drop by more often.

Stop & Shop Food Store, 30031 Main St., Canal Point — An employee was seen “making bare hand contact with cooked vegetable rolls in fryer basket and ready to eat cut lettuce in prep cooler. That got both trashed.

The lettuce was going anyway. That prep cooler had no chill, so the chopped lettuce was too warm. Out with the lettuce and the prep cooler got a Stop Use dropped on it, as did the upright cooler inexplicably stationed in the manager’s office. Beef patties and beef burgers were too cool also but got rewarmed.

No soap or paper towels in the unisex employee restroom.

Valero Food Mart, 11100 SW 216th St., South Miami-Dade — No soap or paper towels at the handwash sink in the kitchen or in the employee restroom. No hot water in the employee restroom. Remember the hep A stuff at the top?

We usually skip over the storage stacking no-nos because they usually don’t involve actual co-mingling of foods and are solved by just moving one.. But “raw bacon found stored on top of cut tomato within cold-holding unit in front of stove top” and that tomato getting tossed seems to say neither was in packaging.

The deli slicer was found with encrusted yellow residue between blade, blade guard, and meat grip. Ew.

OK, you’re chowing down at the gas station minimart, we realize you’re drowning in desperation, willing to accept caveat emptor in food form. But steamed milk, rice, chicken soup, black beans and eggs on a shelf all getting trashed for being kept at unsafe temperatures counts as embarrassing even on the minimart curve.

Still, not as embarrassing as old dried rodent feces found on shelves, below shelving units, inside cabinets, and inside boxes housing packaged food items throughout the store.

Yuking Food Group/Ymart, 77NW 44th St., Lauderhill — Classified as “other perishable processing,” let’s list what the inspector DIDN’T observe.

Didn’t see a handwash sink in juice and coffee preparation area. Didn’t see an installed handwash sink next to the three-compartment sink. Didn’t see proof of an approved water system or sewage system.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.