Food & Drink

A Fresh Market, a Walmart, a Walgreens and roaches in sugar: grocers failing inspections

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Have you ever had food poisoning, and wondered whether to see a doctor? Here are five signs of severe food poisoning that should send you to a doctor for care.

This edition of Gross Grocers includes places you know (Walmart, Walgreens, The Fresh Market) and places that handle edible goods before they wind up in places you know (Import Mex, Purchase Order of Miami). And a few convenience stores and minimarts.

What follows comes directly from Florida Department of Agriculture inspections of South Florida supermarkets, minimarts, convenience stores, food distributors and food storage spaces. We don’t control who gets inspected or how strictly the inspector interprets the guidelines. We report without passion or prejudice, but with a BOGO special of humor.

Inspectors will note on inspections when a violation gets corrected immediately. We might note them anyway because, often, those violations wouldn’t have been corrected without being pointed out by the inspector.

In alphabetical order.

AMP Gas & Auto Service, 560 W. Sample Rd., Pompano Beach — “Sugar container left open inside of coffee cabinet with roaches in it.”

“Rodent droppings throughout mechanic storage room.”

Inspector Christian Acosta noted the “dust and dirt accumulation on fan guard in beverage reach-in coolers” and, in the retail area, “cob webs observed throughout establishment.”

Then, the Stop Uses and Stop Sales blazed from Inspector Acosta’s fingers like fire on sinners in the hands of angry inspection gods.

No probe thermometer in the house? Stop Sale on all open food.

Stop Use on all food equipment. Stop Use on the malfunctioning walk-in cooler. Stop Use on the mechanic storage room, where the rodents ran. Stop Use on the coffee machine near the roaches’ sugar home.

CBon Bakery, 5740 NW Second Ave., Miami — “Rodent droppings along rear wall and rear storage room storing non food items and dirty stove.”

No soap or paper towels at the handwashing sink near the three-compartment sink. And the hot water at the food service area hand sink had a low flow.

No ventilation system inside the employee toilet room, which was off the retail area. P.U. (and we don’t mean Purdue University).

Dami Bakery, 13425 SW 56th St., West Miami-Dade — Back-to-back Gross Grocers appearances for Dami, although this inspection fail seemed mundane compared to the last one.

The tres leches, flan and rice pudding had overstayed their healthy welcome, beyond seven days. Also, the reach-in cooler didn’t keep them cool enough. Basura.

Kitchen- old yellow food residue encrusted on slicer blade and housing.

Kitchen- burned on grease deposits and carbon residue encrusted on exterior pots, pans, and trays located throughout this area.

Distribution LLC, 8944 NW 24th Terr., Doral — This place is classified as “other perishable processing.”

Several dead roaches were in the dry storage area, where there was “pooling water from cooler condensation.”

Speaking of condensation, “Condensate dripping inside of cooler where raw meats are stored and not kept covered to prevent contamination.”

“Various mixers, meat slicer, top of lemon juicer with food residue and not cleaned with enough frequency to prevent contamination of foods being prepared in the facility.”

Several hand washing stations, including the men’s restroom, were without paper towels. Also, hand wash stations in ready to eat processing areas do not have hand sanitizers in addition to the hand soap.

El Bodegon, 8022 W. Sample Rd., Margate — If you’re trying to Sunny Day this inspection, you could say, “At least there weren’t any rodents or roaches.”

A Stop Use Order got dropped on an ineffective bakery display cooler during a focused inspection the day before this full inspection. That’s what’s called a “harbinger.”

The full inspection included “all equipment in meat processing room not sanitized after washing. Degreaser used in place of sanitizer.”

And that’s when they wash the equipment, as “all band saws, slicers, cutting boards, knives and cuber used for more than four hours without washing, rinsing and sanitizing.”

Cleaning seems to be a problem: “three-compartment sink not cleaned between use for warewashing and use as a food prep sink.”

The handwashing sink usage remains questionable as a group they had more issues than a barbershop. In the kitchen food prep area, blocked by tables and equipment. In the bakery and produce departments, blocked by garbage cans. The produce department’s sink also lacked hot water. Knives and the knife sharpening block occupied the meat department’s hand sink, putting a dangerous edge into the handwashing process.

The empanada production area didn’t have a handwashing sink, so the grocery moved that process to the kitchen.

Somebody needs to get down with some Tupperware, Rubbermaid or even the plastic stuff in some stores’ $1 aisles: whole corns, raw beef, peeled potatoes and sauces all were stored uncovered.

There’s a reason stuff needs to be covered. “Pooled condensate water spilled from sheet pan onto a tray of uncovered meat & potato balls in reach-in cooler.”

Unpackaged meat rubbed up against packages of meat in a display case, which sent El Bodegon’s unpackaged meat to El Garbage.

A cook wore gloves when breaking open raw eggs, but then touched knives, cutting boards, wiping clothes, garnish and clean gloves with those gloves, thus defeating the purpose of the gloves.

We don’t have the time to list nor do you have the time to read all the food being kept at bad temperatures by ineffective coolers or warmers. Some of it got rewarmed, some got put in refrigerators for quick cooling and some got tossed, including chick pea soup, beef and chicken empanadas, bread pudding, beef cooked the previous day and four kinds of stuffed bread.

Family Dollar, 5055 10th Avenue, Greenacres — Intrepid inspector Katie Hansen showed up to South Florida’s finest retail rodent rumpus room for the first inspection since June 14 and found a note claiming “Closed for electrical repairs.”

Hansen left her business card. Wonder if the “electrical repairs” happened when the rodents ran out of food and started working on wires.

The Fresh Market, 20409 State Rd. 7, Boca Raton — You disappointed to see the home of Chuck & Chicken Tuesday and a brassy jazz soundtrack for shopping on this list?

Probably no more than the home office in Greensboro, North Carolina is to hear about the meat department’s “old dried debris on wheel and bottom section of meat band saw.”

The deli counter’s a selling point at Fresh Market, but what they were selling was bowtie pasta, coleslaw, sandwiches and Bruschetta out of temperature control. Those got shoved into a refrigerator for more cooling. Shrimp ceviche and Caribbean scallops at the self-serve seafood bar got put in a walk-in cooler. The grilled chicken and ham at the self-serve salad bar got tossed, as did the shrimp at the self-serve seafood bar.

Also, the deli’s handwashing sink lacked soap.

In the bakery department, there was “carbon build-up and debris on bakery pans.”

“Ambient air thermometer for meat room not in good repair.” That’s not the place you want uncertainty about temperature.

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Import Mex, 1240 W. 13th St., Riviera Beach — This place is classified as a “major food distributor,” a place where food and seasonings have a layover between manufacturer and retailer. In the food chain, you never hear about these places.

Unless they’re in South Florida and their inspection looks like this:

“There was a heavy accumulation of rodent excreta observed on the floor in multiple areas of the warehouse.

“Multiple live flies were observed flying around the mop sink in the utility room in the warehouse.”

“A live roach was observed crawling inside of a pest trap next to the bay door in the warehouse.”

“Multiple bags of flour were observed open and exposed to possible contamination from pests on the floor opposite the bay doors in the warehouse.”

Might want to ask your grocer where the flour was before the shelf.

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Purchase Order of Miami, 3724 NW 72nd St., Miami — You don’t want to hear that a place classified as a “major food distributor” has a rodent issue. Especially if you don’t know to whom they’re distributing.

“Eleven rodent droppings next to pallets of food on the floor on the northwestern central part of the wall in the center of the building. Also observed five rodent droppings and footprints in between pallets of gandules secos on northwestern side of building....gnaw marks on bag of white wheat berries on central northwestern side of building.

“On southwestern side of building, observed eight rodent droppings on top of pallets of fish sauce. Also, observed several rat dropping along pallets of food along west side of central wall on top of boxes of food and on floor.”

A Stop Use Order got slapped on the east side of the west room.

Royal Indian Market, 12700 SW 122nd Ave. — This place passed Thursday’s re-inspection, a visit necessary after flunking the July 3 official once-over.

“Multiple black flies found flying around and landing on various equipment in all processing areas” in the kitchen and kitchen storage room.

“Live moths found in direct contact with flour inside open package stored near freezer chest.” Hope they didn’t get baked into anything.

Some people had trouble with proper handwashing, from “only rinsing their fingertips under water in the ware wash sink” to “not washing hands prior to donning gloves to handle food items, and after entering/exiting each processing area.”

“No handwash sink available in the hallway with the preparation table where raw chicken and sauces are prepared.”

A lemon pickle jar with no distributor or manufacturer information as well as duck and chicken eggs from an unapproved source got tossed.

Various hot holding units and reach-in cold units weren’t working. So, out went raw shell eggs, curry chicken, tomato sauce, tamarind sauce, tomato pickle, seasoned red chicken, milk, chicken masala, biriyani masala, onion sauce and spiced tomato sauce. Also, tomato sauce that had been there more than a week.

“Old food residue, debris, and grease deposits encrusted on walls, floors, shelving units, and beneath all equipment,” in the kitchen.

Stadium BP, 19855 NW 37th Ave., Miami Gardens — “Backroom area...employee unisex restroom with an extremely foul excreta odor.”

The processing area had several problems. The handwashing sink was blocked with cardboard boxes and it lacked soap anyway. The hot and cold water fixtures on the ware washing sink were “in disrepair.” And several employees didn’t have their hair under control.

In the actual food service area and the backroom, “soil build-up along walls.”

Stirling U Gas, 6391 Stirling Rd., Davie — The first inspection in two years, eight months showed the Ag Department shouldn’t have left this station on the Pay No Mind List.

The hot water heater wasn’t working. “Observed heavy, heavy build up on ware washing sink, sink is not accessible.” So, where are they washing their ware?

In the retail area, “tongs on top hot case and food-contact surfaces of equipment not sanitized before use” and “heavy food debris and spillage inside the microwave.”

How hot are the hot patties? 127 degrees. Not hot enough — tossed.

A hot case got hit with a Stop Use Order over not having the proper backflow device. We don’t like the sound of that.

Top Value, 1490 NW Third Ave., Miami — The meat area’s grinder contained “old, dry product residue” and the food service slicer didn’t get promptly cleaned after four hours of use. “Old fashioned cooking like grandma” doesn’t mean using actual old food.

In the food service area, the inspector saw an “employee drinking from bottle and placing it inside display case unit with lunch meats.”

Also in the food service area, sanitizer concentration was too light.

Among those dealing with meat, “employee using the same gloves to perform different tasks.”

Walgreens, 181 N. University Dr., Plantation — “Dead lizard on the floor behind the storage selves.” Bet you didn’t know there are rules about dead lizards in your establishment.

Dents observed on seams of tuna can in food aisle.”

Some Walgreens, such as the one in downtown Miami, have a cooler with fruits and salads near the cash register, in case you feel guilty about that late night Doritos run. In this Walgreens, that cooler had cut melons and leafy green salads and the cooler couldn’t cool enough. Not cool.

Walgreens passed Friday’s re-inspection.

Walmart, 3001 N. State Rd. 7, Lauderdale Lakes — No grocer brings in more gross revenue than Walmart. No excuse, then, for “hand soap not provided at handsink by warewashing sink.”

Also no excuse for “Three sections of the produce open cases found in disrepair...and unable to maintain cold (time and temperature control) foods (watermelon, salsa, tofu) at 41 degrees or below.”

The food temperature problems extended beyond the produce section. You could have the kind of extended family cookouts that include Uncle Gus and Aunt Bunny with all the food being kept at bacteria-building temperature: Italian pinwheel, turkey pinwheels, chicken parmesan meal, spaghetti and meatball meal, enchiladas meal, bacon cheese pizzas, traditional pizzas, mozzarella cheese balls, salami and cheese sticks, veggie smart dogs, pico de gallo (cut tomato), snack packs with cheese, mixed melon chunks and the above mentioned watermelon, salsa and tofu.

Back in the deli, an open bulk piece of turkey didn’t have a date and an open piece of mesquite turkey had an expiration date of July 6. This inspection was on July 8.

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.
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