Food & Drink

Gross grocers: Rodent fur on shelves, pee on chip bags. Oh, and the sausage was green

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

Before we get down with the dirty of our Gross Grocers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties (we spun off the Keys’ Gross Grocers here), let’s talk about hepatitis A.

We’ve said this before, but it can’t be said too often — diseases like hep A shows handwashing matters. They’re why any places that serve food, whether gas station sushi or Sushi-Samba, has to have at least one dedicated handwashing sink with soap and hot water. Hep A spreads through minuscule particles of poop, the kind that stay on your hands when they get the splash-and-go treatment at the sink.

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What follows comes straight from the Florida Department of Agriculture inspections of supermarkets, bodegas, minimarts, food distributors and all manner of food sellers. We don’t control who gets inspected — although you can by filing a complaint here — or how strictly. We report without passion or prejudice, but with a clearance table of humor.

In alphabetical order:

The B’s Family Market, 13000 NW Seventh Ave., North Miami — Inspector Jose Pavon didn’t see any soap or paper towels at the restroom handwashing sink on this return inspection. But, here’s what he did see.

“Observed dead rodent on floor in front of sales counter under and between shelf panels. (In the) back, observed multiple dead rodents and roaches on clue boards next to rear door.”

There was also rodent pool on a cosmetics shelf and on a wall with an air conditioning unit. “Observed rodent excreta throughout the entire establishment.”

Nothing more needs be said here.

Chevron, 1601 State Rd. 7, Lauderhill — No hot water in the restroom handwashing sink. No paper towns at the handwashing sinks in the back storage area and restroom.

Delicias Colombianas, 9546 SW 137th Ave., South Miami-Dade — A repeat performance from the last Gross Grocers list. Like most sequels, this didn’t even measure up to their last inspection failure.

In the bakery, “food employee handling different tasks after hands have become contaminative, entering and exiting the area, and working with open foods for cooking and not washing her hands.”

Somebody touched the corn/cheese arepas with her bare hands. They got put in the Hefty circular file just like the tamales and other arepas kept too warm and the tamales kept too cold. That trash was soon joined by yucca/cheese breads; pork tamales; chorizo sausages; pork rind w/meat; and beef empanadas.

Also, “bakery processing, both the floor mixer and tabletop mixer found with old yellow dough residue stuck on the underside and on the beater attachment.”

Downstairs, 10700 SW 186th Ct., South Miami-Dade — Somebody owes Inspector Laura Sanchez a meal, although if she felt like eating after chronicling this mess, she owns a cast-iron stomach.

Juice anyone? “Orange juicer was found with flies inside and with heavy dust/soil buildup on the range track.”

Which is worse? “Fly found flying around inside container of cooked shredded beef” or, in the kitchen and the cafe areas, “observed flies too numerous to count.”

Out in the retail area, no hot water at the handsink in the men’s and women’s employee/customer restrooms.

“Bread baking pans found with heavy carbon buildup, not cleaned every 24 hours as required.”

The corn tamales found in a cardboard box in the walk in freezer weren’t unlabeled and the person in charge was not able to provide an invoice or proof of source. Also, the leaking condenser unit was dripping on them.

Downstairs might’ve set a Gross Grocers record for amount of food thrown out for not being kept at the proper temperature for food safety.

Cheese pepper tornados; macaroni ham salad; black beans; chicken soup; pork chunks; shredded beef; more pork chunks; ham croquettes; beef pastries; beef stuffed yucca; Colombian beef empanadas; beef empanadas; chicken empanadas; bulk sweet ham; bulk turkey; bulk Boars Head ham; bulk pork; and bulk spicy chicken.

Family Dollar, 5055 10th Ave. N, Greenacres — When the inspection opens with “observed hole in ceiling of receiving area,” you know it’s going to be one of those “Life on Earth” inspections that should have David Attenborough commentary.

And here we go…”retail area: large flies observed on plastic soda display.”

Large flies, huh? Not as large as other things living in the retail aisles.

“Observed rodent droppings on, under, and around all retail shelves and displays. Observed chew marks on wooden soda display. Observed can food labels chewed up and strewn across shelves. Observed bags of chips and peanuts with droppings on top and urine puddled in the creases of the bags.

“Plastic containers of baby oatmeal have been chewed through. Dog food and cat food bags have been chewed through and kibble pieces are strewn across shelves. Boxes of diapers have been chewed through and diapers themselves pulled apart.”

Again, this is what’s on Family Dollar shelves for customers to buy.

“Observed clumps of fur, with skin attached, stuck to retail shelves. In the far right corner of the retail area there is a collection of paper and styrofoam products that have been chewed through.”

In the backroom, receiving and storage area, meanwhile...

“There are rodent droppings throughout, rub marks are present on wiring above and around electrical system. Equipment and rodent squeaks can be heard from the ceiling. There is a water fountain between the two restrooms with droppings around and under it.”

Naturally, a monsoon of Stop Use and Stop Sale orders drenched this place.

After all that, is it piling on to note that the inspector saw “air conditioning unit drains water onto sidewalk, then the asphalt where it puddles and collects is accessible for use by pests. This air conditioning unit also has trash and other debris inside of it. Plants growing around exterior of building are short , bushy, and contain trash and other debris.”

Kmart, 1201 S. Dixie Hwy., Lantana — The only thing good for this Kmart about being back on this list: it lets people know Kmarts still exist. Otherwise, being known for rodent dump on the dog food doesn’t come across as positive brand marketing.

But, it’s better than “rodent droppings on shelving in pantry aisles — chips crackers, candy and paper goods … observed gnawed chips and cookies on pantry aisles and by front register. Rodent urine observed on bags of chips.”

“Observed rodent droppings and gnawed black covering by the front door; observed rodent droppings on floor and on shelving of general merchandise items on almost all of the perimeter wall of retail area; under gondolas in deal flash front register chip stand and candy area; on shelving in the chemical aisle area; in home goods area (pillows); back room area; throughout dog food storage area and on canned cat food pulled off shelving from last inspection.”

The inspector saw rodent poop upstairs in the shoe stock room area and old pantry stock room.

“Stop Use order on all shelving of affected aisles.”

No more receiving food. If they don’t get rid of the rodents by the next inspection, which will be before April 22, a Stop Sale Order comes down on the food. But, considering the gnawing, who wants to buy anything here that goes in the mouth?

La Guadalupana Ice Cream 2, 1417 N. State Rd. 7, Davie — In the back, no hot water at the mop sink and the handwashing sink located in restroom.

Lowe’s Home Center, 130 N. University Dr., Pembroke Pines — Look what’s at the bottom of the big box.

“Multiple rodent excreta, sunflower shells and other bird seeds on floor along under pallets containing bags of bird food area adjacent to exit for outside garden area.”

M and L Meat Enterprises of Belle Glade Meat Market, 1417 NW Avenue L, Belle Glade — “Rodent droppings observed on floor by various retail aisles.” In the backroom, the rodents had been on a storage shelf.

Also in the backroom, “old food residue and debris build up on the floor in the walk-in freezer.” So, if the rodents get caught in there, they can lick the floor for survival.

Malaga Distributors Corporation 13941 SW 143rd Ct., South Miami-Dade — A “major food distributor” that failed inspection on March 14 did so again for still having no hot water in the employee restroom handwashing sink and no proof of approved water source, sewage system or mop sink.

Malaga better stop playing with Inspector Manuel Uribe before he starts closing down areas like a book.

19 Street Discount Grocery, 2420 NW 19th St., Fort Lauderdale — No soap or paper towels at the handwashing sink next to the ice machine.

Bread and juice not labeled and from “an unknown source.” Gone.

Also tossed: “green patches located on prepackaged sausage located in deli display case.”

“Observed buildup of soil and debris in the interior of ice machine.”

In the kitchen, “observed open packages of deli meats without date marking located in deli display case. All deli meats voluntarily discarded…”

Oriental Mart of Miami Kimchi, 15355 S. Dixie Hwy, Palmetto Bay — On a retail shelf, bean sprouts were stored below condensation throughout produce reach-in cold unit.

In the meats area, the deli slicer found with “yellow encrusted food residue along the push tool and blade guard.”

In the produce processing area, there was a “heavy accumulation of food debris and pooled water found throughout walk-in cooler.”

Penn Dutch, 3201 N. State Rd. 7, Margate — Aside from the chopper, the equipment here and in the Hollywood location are back in action.

Shop Smart Food Stores, 535 NE 24th St., Pompano Beach — The retail hand washing sink didn’t have any paper towels. Easily fixable problem compared to the problem that could leave this place without inventory.

Where shoppers walk, “rodent excreta observed on the floor under the soda crate on the left side of the Snapple refrigerator.”

In the back, “rodent excreta observed on the floor under the hand washing sink in the backroom.”

The Stop Sale from March 22 dropped on all open food is still in place. The Stop Use Orders from the same day for the boiled peanuts machine, hot dog roller, cappuccino machine, Slushie machine, hot case and the three-compartment sink all remain in effect.

“At this time the receiving areas of the establishment are being placed on a Stop Use Order due to rodent activity.” That means they can’t use that area to store or receive inventory.

Westar, 10200 SW 56th St., South Miami-Dade — “Food employees observed not washing hands after handling money, leaving and returning area prior to handling food items for customers.”

Then again, there’s no soap or hand towels at the backroom hand sink.

The honey in glass bottles and caramel stuffed cookies (alfajores) came from someplace that couldn’t be inspected. The inspector dropped the Stop Sale cow on them.

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.