Food & Drink

Old food in slicers, slime in ice machines — and rodents. Why these grocers failed

Three bakeries highlight an unusual makeup of this edition of “Gross Grocers: only one food distributor, no major supermarket or big box store chains and zero Family Dollar stores.

Congratulations to Family Dollar on having none of their Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach or Monroe county locations on this list for the first time since April. Then again, it doesn’t appear any Family Dollar stores in those counties were inspected from June 17 through July 2.

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What follows comes from Florida Department of Agriculture inspections of grocery stores, minimarts, food distributors and food storage facilities. We don’t control who gets inspected (although, you can by filing a complaint here) or how strictly the inspector inspects. We report without passion or prejudice, but with a reach-in cooler of humor.

Note: The reports on the failed inspections for National 5 Supermarket, 19565 NW 57th Ave. in Miami Gardens, and Vegan Fine Foods, 330 Himmarshee St. in Fort Lauderdale, weren’t available as of Sunday.

In alphabetical order:

Alyssa’s Bakery, 1113 53rd Court St., West Palm Beach — Multiple metal fans, which are used to cool baked food, were observed with an accumulation of dust in the wet food processing area.

A Stop Use Order got dropped on the rear processing room, where there’s no handwashing sink, but “a food worker was observed preparing dry ingredients.”

Alyssa’s has 30 days to get a handwashing sink running.

Citgo, 2801 NW 42nd Ave., Miami — This place passed re-inspection Tuesday. There wouldn’t have been the need for re-inspection if they hadn’t failed the June 18 inspection.

“Bags of shredded feta and Parmesan cheese found with green mold-like spots inside.”

No label said where the lemon pie, tiramisu and tres leches came from and the invoice didn’t identify a company. Gone.

Cuban sandwiches stored from the night before with no cover in the walk-in cooler. Ham and salami got tossed because they were sliced by an unclean slicer. A meat slicer (“encrusted in yellow old food residue”), cutting board and knives weren’t being washed, rinsed and sanitized every four hours.

Want a drink? The orange juicer’s rail was “encrusted in stuck on dust and soil residue.” The underside of the espresso machine was covered in “visible old coffee residue.” The bakery ice machine was “found with black mold-like stains around ice chute and interior bin.”

Numerous kinds of croquettes (ham, chicken, cod fish) and empanadas (beef, cheese, ham and cheese, chicken, spinach) as well as beef stew and cheese sticks weren’t kept warm enough so they got tossed. Following them into the garbage for not being kept cold enough were sliced ham, sliced Swiss cheese, sliced provolone cheese, pork chops, bacon, mini ham and cheese sandwiches, sliced chorizo packs, sliced salami packs, sliced water ham packs, gallons of whole milk, jugs of yogurt and Naked green juices.

City Food Mart, 5400 N. Dixie Hwy., Boca Raton — Inspector Tariqul Islam “observed rodents’ droppings on several backroom area floors,” so he dropped a Stop Use Order on the entire backroom area.

No paper towel or hand soap at the backroom handwashing sink.

In the retail area, soda crates were used as shelves. That works to store books in your first post-college or post-divorce apartment. But for food you’re selling.

Dami Bakery, 13425 SW 56th St., West Miami-Dade — In the kitchen, the inspector saw a “food employee “rinsing hands with only water and then drying hands on apron and pants before returning to work.”

But, maybe it’s a group thing in the kitchen as “multiple food employees observed not washing hands after handling money, entering/exiting the various processing areas, cleaning/washing, and returning to handle food items for customer orders.” Also, in the kitchen, “food employee observed using bare hands to wash lettuce that was to be placed on steak sandwich.”

Some people need to be educated about gloves. “Food employee observed wearing gloves, handling raw chicken breast, then opening the walk-in cooler door, obtaining food items from cooler, and then handling raw steak with same gloves.”

More kitchen issues. “Old yellow food residue encrusted on slicer blade and housing.”

We’ve warned you earlier this week about those folks with the Lee Press-On Nails. “Food employee with painted artificial nails was found not wearing gloves when handling food items for customers.”

Dominican Products, 1353 NW 29th St., Miami — Apparently, this “major food distributor” found the exterminator’s phone number. It passed Tuesday’s re-inspection after an initial inspection lowlighted by “over 20 rodent droppings on west side of building, next to liquid seasoning. Also ... five droppings on boxes of vanilla extract...two droppings between boxes of honey and oregano ... five droppings on top of box of oregano ... in back of the building, 17 rodent droppings on boxes of vanilla extract.

”Facility stores various food products including spices and extracts.”

El Bodegon Grocery, 4704 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach — In the meat area, “meat stored in display without packaging to protect from display case condensation.”

The food service area’s small ice machine’s dispensing chute “has pink slime accumulation.”

Bad, bacteria-building temperatures caused raw pork in seasoning mix and a container of Michoacan cheese, and, in the reach-in produce coolers, sprouts and cut leafy greens to become trash. Beef tripe in the chest freezer wasn’t frozen. Bye.

“Four large pieces of pork being thawed totally submerged in stagnant water in the three-compartment sink.” The three-compartment sink is supposed to be used just for cleaning and sanitizing cookware. Pig in the garbage.

In the bakery area, the “baking sheets have food deposits encrusted on them.”

The meat area had “large puddles of blood throughout processing room.”

This was a joint inspection with the Florida Department of Health of Palm Beach County.

La Esquina Tropical, 1060 SW 8th St., Miami — Broom and a dustpan, people. “Dead roaches found underneath grocery shelves.”

“Old dry yellow residue inside blade of slicer” in the meat department.

“No drain boards or drainpipe at this institution.”

The reach-in cooler was at 59 degrees and that’s where you put things that need to be below 41 degrees.

In the food service and meat areas, there’s a direct connection between the three-compartment sinks and the drain line. That’s problem if there’s a sewage backup. If Le Esquina doesn’t get it indirectly plumbed in 90 days, “then the three-compartment sink will be placed on a Stop Use Order and all food service may be placed on a Stop Use Order.”

Moulin Rose & Bakery Shop, 9869 SW 72nd St., West Miami-Dade — This bakery danced through a successful re-inspection Friday that was made necessary by an inspection dotted with handwashing violations

“Food employees multitasking, entering and exiting the area, touching money and continuing to work with open food service without washing their hands.”

One handwashing sink was blocked by an orange juice machine and another by a rack directly in front of it.

Guess where there was “Black, mold-like filth around the interior rim.” If you guessed the ice machine chute, a Scooby Snack for paying attention.

You want a bakery to stay in touch with its past, but a floor mixer blade attachment takes that too far when it’s “encrusted in old, yellow dough residue” and a table top sheeter is “encrusted in old dough residue on the corners and around the back roller.” The deli slicer had a little too much past on its present, too.

Sammy’s Discount Food & Deli, 3081 NW 19th St., Fort Lauderdale — Inspector Kaitlyn Ford was not playing on June 28, dropping Stop Sales and Stop Use Orders like prices on a Blu-Ray player.

“Numerous flies” in the food service area, including “dead fly inside the salt bag on the bottom shelf of the storage unit.”

Bad glove usage also, in the food service area. “Observed food employees donning gloves and not washing their hands first, and also not washing their hands between changing gloves” and “food employee working with raw eggs continued working with cooked foods and with ready-to-eat foods while wearing the same gloves.”

No soap at the handwashing sink, but “old, yellow residue” on the blade, guard and push tool of the deli slicer. That was enough for a Stop Use Order.

In the backroom, “soil matter and grime found on interior bins of ice machine and black mold-like stains around rim on ice chute.” Stop Use on that, too.

The backroom floors had “an excess accumulation of dirt, dust, debris, trash and dead roaches.”

The reach-in cold unit wasn’t doing its job so Cobb salad with turkey got tossed and Stop Sales got dropped on mild souse, souse, salami, roast beef, bulk ham, bulk white turkey breast, yellow and white American cheese, hot dogs, butter and sausages.

Joining the Cobb salad from the top of the sandwich unit were sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sliced ham and yellow American cheese.

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.