125 pieces of rodent poop, kitchen sewage backup, a roach in the noodles: restaurant fails

A statewide look at Florida’s top restaurant violations for 2017-18

Restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. Here are the top ten violations inspectors found between 2017-18 in Florida restaurant kitchens.
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Restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. Here are the top ten violations inspectors found between 2017-18 in Florida restaurant kitchens.

What this week’s Sick and Shut Down List lacks in quantity, it makes up for in unsafe handling of food.

All manner of nasty organisms proliferate when food isn’t kept properly heated or refrigerated. That’s why meat and chicken producers now often put reminders on the packaging to defrost in the refrigerator, not on the counter. They don’t want their food turning into the bacteria boat that ships food poisoning into your tummy. They know it’ll be a while before you put their product in your cart again.

What follows comes straight out of the Florida Department of Business and Regulation health inspections. We don’t control who gets inspected or how strictly (although you can). We report without passion or prejudice but with more than a side order of humor.

And we go in alphabetical order:

China Garden, 2360 W. 68th St., Hialeah Thursday’s most malodorous problem in the Garden: turn the water on in the handwashing sink or the three-compartment sink, where you wash the cookware, and you had “sewage/wastewater backing up through floor drains in the kitchen.”

Well, that’s not the aroma you want surrounding your shrimp fried rice. Speaking of rice, “In-use utensil stored in standing water less than 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Spoon used to scoop rice at 80 degrees.”

That temperature mention gives us a segue to “potentially hazardous food” handling temperature problems. Not only were the cooked ribs, cooked chicken and cooked pork kept at too warm a temperature in the cooler, but they’d been made at least a day before, maybe more. There was no date on them.

“Reach-in freezer shelf soiled with food debris.” “Excessive grease buildup on kitchen floor underneath fryer.”

No way to dry hands at the restroom handwash sink. Eww.

China Garden recovered to pass Friday’s re-inspection.

The New Blue Mountain Restaurant & Lounge, 1430 N. State Rd. 7, Lauderhill — The roaches didn’t seem to have the run of the kitchen. Maybe because the rodents do.

The inspector’s count of 125 rodent droppings (120 fresh!) broke down thusly: “30 fresh rodent droppings found in the kitchen underneath the steam table... 12 fresh rodent droppings found in the kitchen next to the U.S. refrigerator... 15 fresh rodent droppings found in the kitchen behind the deep freezer... eight fresh rodent found in the kitchen underneath the handwash sink... 10 fresh rodent droppings found in bar next to three-compartment sink... 15 fresh and five dry rodent droppings found in dry storage area next to multiple cases with beer... 30 fresh rodent droppings found in passage way next to hot water heater.”

Kind of makes that “one live roach found in female restroom” seem minute, doesn’t it?

With all that Pixie and Dixie activity in the kitchen, you really don’t want to see a citation for “cases with plantains and containers with pork and beef stored on kitchen floor.”

The inspector dropped Stop Sales on raw oxtail and chicken that had fevers, measuring at 52 and 53 degrees, 11 and 12 degrees above the high end of safe.

Cooking while eating and with your hair flowing free is fine for home. In a restaurant, both get citations.

Somebody must have called an exterminator or negotiated a one-day withdrawal. New Blue Mountain passed Wednesday’s re-inspection.

Rinconcito Paisa Restaurant, 12823 SW 42nd St., West Miami-Dade Wonder if the live roach in a box of packaged noodles was a female with stored sperm who laid egg cases. Just a thought.

There were also three live roaches on the cookline behind the fryers and two live roaches in a hallway near the kitchen.

Stop Sales dropped like Snoop Dogg rhymes on raw beef, raw chicken and raw pork all kept at hazardously warm temperatures in an apparently ineffective reach-in cooler.

As for other raw beef, “Frozen raw beef not covered in reach-in freezer.”

How long ago was that frozen pasta cooked? More than a day, an employee knew. More specifics weren’t given.

A hat trick of nothing — no soap, no paper towels, no hand drying machine — means the front handwashing sink might as well be a garden hose.

Simon Lumiere, 12750 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami “Objectionable odor in establishment in the kitchen area.”

That might be only a Basic violation — that is about as basic as it gets — but if it shows up on your inspection report, you’re more certain to be shut down for the day than if you have any number of High Priority violations.

High Priority violations such as, “Observed employee touching dirty dishes then touching clean utensils without handwashing.”

Or, “Four live roaches crawling on the wall, one live roach behind a frame (all in the front area next to the cooler for beverages); and one live roach crawling underneath the same reach-in cooler. Also observed two live roaches next to the three-compartment sink in the kitchen, and two live roaches next to the cooler used for produce in the kitchen.”

Oh, that cooler? “Observed accumulation of debris on reach in cooler used to store produce in the kitchen” and “Reach-in cooler shelves with rush that has pitted the surface.”

In a different reach-in cooler, “Observed six dead roaches on reach-in cooler gaskets located in the front area” along with one dead roach in the kitchen.

And after your pest strip or zapper gets its prey, clean it. “Three dead flies on control device located in the front by the handwash sink.”

“Handwash sink not accessible for employee use due to being blocked by two cases of degreaser.” We’re sure they washed their hands someplace else. Ahem.

Simon got it back together to pass Thursday’s re-inspection.

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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.