Restaurant inspection replace: Hungry rodents, moldy veggies and months-old salsa

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Restaurant inspection update: Hungry rodents, moldy veggies and months-old salsa

State, city and county food inspectors have cited Iowa restaurants and stores for hundreds of food-safety violations during the past four weeks, including moldy vegetables, long-expired food, and hamburger buns gnawed upon by rodents.

One fast-food restaurant in Des Moines was cited for an overall lack of sanitation due to an accumulation of food debris, grease, pooling water and rodent droppings in the kitchen, while the workers at a Cedar Rapids fast-food establishment appeared to have no knowledge of the correct cooking temperature for hamburgers and other food.

The findings are reported by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, which handles food-establishment inspections at the state level. Listed below are some of the more serious findings that stem from inspections at Iowa restaurants, stores, schools, hospitals and other businesses over the past four weeks.

The state inspections department reminds the public that their reports are a “snapshot” in time, and violations are often corrected on the spot before the inspector leaves the establishment. For a more complete list of all inspections, along with additional details on each of the inspections listed below, visit the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals’ website.

Burger King, 2222 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Des Moines – During a Dec. 12 visit, an inspector cited the restaurant for 10 violations. The inspector reported that the person in charge was not a certified food protection manager and did not demonstrate the required knowledge or skill level as evidenced by the extent of the violations, which included a failure to ensure that all food items were protected and unadulterated by pests.

The inspector found two 20-count packages of hamburger buns that “had been chewed through and the buns inside were visibly eaten” by some form of pest or rodent. Another 20-count package of buns had been torn, and there were what appeared to be rodent droppings on the packaging. A fourth package of buns was sealed but had what appeared to be an insect on the top of a bun inside the package.

The inspector also noted that sliced cheeses, shredded lettuce, and sliced tomatoes using were not discarded after being left out for four hours or more. In addition, the vegetable slicer and interior of the metal containers on the “clean” equipment shelf were visibly soiled with accumulated debris. The inspector also reported that the reach-in oven was visibly soiled with accumulated food debris. Also, rodent droppings were observed behind a non-functioning soda fountain, on a shelf with soda fountain syrups, the break-area table, and throughout the dry storage area and dishwashing area.

A lack of general facility sanitation, as well as accumulating food debris, grease and pooling water had created a facility in which pests and rodents could be harbored, the inspector noted. Floors and walls throughout the restaurant were “visibly soiled with accumulated debris,” he reported. The visit was in response to a non-illness complaint regarding pest control and food contaminated by pests. The complaint was deemed verified.

The most recent previously published routine inspection report for the restaurant dates back to August 2018.

Best Western Plus-Steeplegate Inn, 100 W. 76th St., Davenport – During a Dec. 8 visit, an inspector cited the establishment for 11 violations, including the storage of raw, whole cuts of beef and raw ground beef above cooked bacon, ham and ribs inside a walk-in cooler, which created a risk of cross-contamination. That was a repeat violation.

Also, one of the coolers was holding a pan of fish at 43 degrees – too warm to ensure food safety – and the cooler did not have an adjustable thermostat. In addition, prepared chicken wings and buffalo chicken dip were not date-marked to ensure their freshness and safety.

The inspector found numerous prepared foods throughout the restaurant that had been held beyond the allowable maximum of seven days, including queso that was dated Nov. 9 – a full month prior to the inspection – and spinach dip that was dated Nov. 5. The inspector also found ranch dressing dated Nov. 26 and salsa that was dated Nov. 17. The storage of expired food was cited as a repeat violation.

The inspector also noted that the food slicer, can opener, several pans and lids from the “clean” dish rack, several serving utensils, tongs, knives, a spatula, a whisk, a large stand-up mixer, and the interiors of the two reach-in coolers were all soiled by food debris or grease and were in need of additional cleaning and sanitizing. That, too, was a repeat violation. The inspector also found a pan of raw salmon and a pan of frozen, cooked ribs that were sitting out to thaw.

Eva’s Mexican Restaurant, 835 7th Ave., Marion – During a Dec. 7 visit, an inspector observed workers moving between tasks such as washing dishes and preparing food without washing their hands. Also, chicken was left sitting out at room temperature and was measured at 56 degrees – 15 degrees too warm to ensure its safety; house-made salsas and cooked meats were not marked with dates to ensure freshness and safety; and access to the kitchen’s handwashing sinks was blocked by a machine and boxes of fruit.

Brick & Iron, 104 E. 7th St., Coralville – During a Dec. 7 visit, an inspector observed an employee handling ready-to-eat buns with their bare hands. The inspector also found cheese sauce that was holding at 101 degrees, too cool to ensure food safety, and so it was discarded. The inspector also reported finding several food items that were well past their seven-day shelf life, such as barbecue sauce dated Nov. 22, buttermilk that was dated Nov. 20, and mango salsa that was dated Oct. 15. All of the expired food items were discarded.

Hy-Vee Foods, 3235 Oakland Road, Cedar Rapids – During a Dec. 7 visit, an inspector noted that no sanitizer was being used during the operation of the Chinese Kitchen and other food stations; an employee was not washing their hands after handling dirty dishes; an employee was not changing gloves as often as necessary; water for the hot-holding unit was not being heated to at least 135 degrees to keep the food hot enough to ensure safety; and one of the coolers was storing food at 48 to 50 degrees rather than 41 degrees or colder.

Also, an open-air cooler used for retail food sales was overstocked with food items, resulting in cream cheese products being held  is 46 to 50 degrees rather than 41 degrees or colder; an open chest-type freezer was overstocked and was unable keep food cool enough, with beef and ham measured at 46 to 47 degrees.

The bakery was stocked with house-made garlic butter that was dated Nov. 20, a full 17 days prior to the inspection; the designated handwashing sink in the meat department has debris in it and no hot water; many of the thermometers in the meat department and in the display coolers were not working; and there was debris in the bottom of a reach-in cooler near the Hickory Grill area.

Hy-Vee Foods, 7101 University Ave., Windsor Heights – During a Dec. 2 visit, an inspector found raw poultry and raw ground beef stored next to each other in a drawer, risking cross-contamination; and leftover catered foods were found inside a walk-in cooler and were measured at 43 to 50 degrees, too warm to ensure their safety, so they had to be discarded.

Also, rotisserie chickens in a walk-in cooler were measured at up to 47 degrees and had to be discarded; cooked rotisserie chickens that were in a hot-holding retail case were measured at 112 to 122 degrees, too cool to ensure their safety, and so they had to be discarded; wings in a hot-holding case were measured at 126 degrees and had to be discarded; chicken that was made on Nov. 18, and Canadian bacon made on Nov. 17 were past their expiration date and had to be discarded.

The kitchen dishwashing machine was not sanitizing utensils and dishware; and there was food debris on a dicer and on the mixers in the bakery department. The visit was in response to a complaint alleging poor housekeeping in the deli area. The inspector deemed the complaint unverified.

Rome Lunchbox, 205 S. 3rd St., Mount Pleasant – During a Dec. 2 visit, an inspector noted that raw chicken and raw hamburger was stored above ready-to-eat food in a cooler; raw bacon was being stored at 75 degrees on a kitchen counter and had to be discarded; raw eggs were stored at 73 degrees on a kitchen counter and had to be discarded.

Also, there was house-made pasta salad, potato salad, and three-bean salad with no date-markings on them to ensure freshness and safety; utensils, dishes and other equipment were not being sanitized due to the dishwashing machine being in disrepair.

There was no soap at two handwashing sinks; assorted bags of single-service containers and plates were being stored on the floor; a microwave oven was soiled with an accumulation of food debris; and the ventilation hoods were soiled with a heavy accumulation of grease. The inspector noted that the last inspection report had not been posted where customers could see it.

During a Dec. 1 visit to this Wendy’s at 1854 42nd St. NE in Cedar Rapids, a Linn County health inspector reported the restaurant’s employees appeared to have no knowledge of the correct cooking temperature for hamburgers and other food. (Photo via Google Earth)

Wendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers, 1854 42nd St. NE, Cedar Rapids – During a Dec. 1 visit, a Linn County inspector reported the restaurant’s employees appeared to have no knowledge of the correct cooking temperature for hamburgers and others food.

She also reported that the restaurant was not monitoring the length of time hot food was held before being served; some employees were wearing gloves at all times without washing their hands; and the cutting board for chicken, as well as a set of tongs, had food debris on them when stored and not in use.

In addition, the interior of the restaurant was cold, and one employee was cooking hamburgers while wearing a winter jacket and wool hat, both from home, rather than a uniform. Only one of the female employees working in the food-preparation line was wearing a cap or a hair net, and the inspector reported being unable to open a drawer in a cooler because it was “too sticky” with some type of buildup.

In addition, the inspector reported that all of the coolers in the restaurant had food debris inside of them and were soiled, and that the chicken grill, though not in use at the time, had an accumulation of food debris and was unclean.

The visit was in response to a customer complaint about the inadequate cooking of hamburgers. The establishment used a timer to cook hamburgers, but a worker reported being unsure as to the length of time a burger should be cooked, citing a lack of training. “Employees must recognize if, visually, food is not right/red inside, to not serve it or inform manager,” the Linn County inspector wrote in her report. She closed the investigation after deeming the complaint to be “unverified at this time.”

Jethro’s Steak & Chop, 1301 Buckeye Ave., Ames – During a Dec. 1 visit, an inspector noted that a refrigerator was not holding food at 41 degrees or colder. The inspector measured sausage at 56 degrees and raw burgers at 47 degrees. House-made applesauce had been held longer than the maximum of seven days; brisket and chicken was held longer than allowed.

Also, the dishwashing machine showed no sign of sanitizing solution when in use; the soda-dispensing guns at the bar were all visibly soiled; and access to a handwashing sink was blocked. The most recent previously published routine inspection report for the restaurant dates back to September 2017.

Panchero’s Mexican Grill, 650 Community Dr., North Liberty – During a Dec. 1 visit, an inspector noted that the queso was being held at 129 degrees, too cool to ensure food safety; lettuce and pico were being held at 42 to 44 degrees, which was too warm to ensure food safety; the washing buckets used by the kitchen had no measurable amount of sanitizing solution; and the restaurant did not have the most recent inspection report posted for customers to read.

In accordance with Johnson County Public Health policies, a warning letter was issued due to some of the risk-factor violations being found during three or more consecutive inspections.

Thai Kitchen, 2410 Chamberlain, Ames – During a Dec. 1 visit, an inspector cited the restaurant for 11 violations. He noted that raw sausage was stored above ready-to-eats food in a cooler; the restaurant was performing non-continuous cooking of raw animal foods, which created the risk of disease-causing bacteria not being destroyed during preparation; partially cooked meat was being stored at room temperature; and raw eggs were being stored at room temperature.

Also, the restaurant was not marking prepared foods with dates to ensure freshness and safety; the inside of the ice machine was visibly soiled; and the sink designated for handwashing was instead being used to thaw tofu. The most recent previously published routine inspection report for the restaurant dates back to October 2016.

East 25th Street Pub & Grub, 509 E. 25th St., Des Moines – During a Nov. 30 visit, an inspector cited the restaurant for cucumbers that “were visibly adulterated with a mold-like substance.” In addition, the interior of the ice machine was visibly soiled with an accumulation of debris; containers of baked beans were dated Nov. 17, suggesting they were past their seven-day shelf life; and the sides and the area underneath the fryers were heavily soiled with accumulated grease and food debris;

The restaurant did not have a certified food protection manager on staff and the restaurant had been operating without a valid license for more than 60 days. The most recent previously published inspection report for the restaurant dates back to June 2017, when a pre-opening inspection was held.

Los Primos Gonzales-Don Miguel, 2215 Westdale Drive SW, Cedar Rapids – During a Nov. 30 visit, an inspector cited the restaurant and store for having no certified food protection manager in a supervisory capacity. Also, pork stew was being held at 71 degrees, and cooked rice was being held at 70 degrees, which wasn’t hot enough or cold enough to ensure safety. The rice was discarded, and the pork stew was reheated to 165 degrees. In addition, several food items in a walk-in cooler – including sauces, pulled chicken and steak – had no date markings to ensure freshness.

John & Nick’s Steak and Prime Rib, 15970 Hickman Road, Clive – During a Nov. 30 visit, an inspector cited the restaurant for failing to have a certified food protection manager on staff; for storing raw shrimp in a cooler above cooked ribs; for using the handwashing sink to store cleaning supplies; for the lack of a thin-tipped probe thermometer to measure the temperature of cooked foods.

Also, for storing fresh-baked bread uncovered on shelving that was directly underneath ceiling vents heavily soiled with dust-like debris; for leaking plumbing that was in disrepair; and for kitchen ceiling tiles and vents that were  heavily soiled with dust and debris. The most recent previously published inspection report for the restaurant dates back to February 2017.

Samurai Sushi & Hibachi Restaurant, 7125 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines — During a Nov. 30 visit, an inspector observed a food-service employee washing cutlery in a sink designated for handwashing. The restaurant was cited for cooked sushi rice that was not labeled with a date or time for it to be discarded; for multiple uncovered employee beverages throughout the food-preparation area; for employees eating in the food-production area; and for failure to employ a certified food protection manager.

The inspector also noted that several food items in the cold-holding area were at temperatures above the maximum 41 degrees, such as raw chicken at 51 degrees; raw beef at 47 degrees; raw shrimp at 62 degrees; cut cabbage at 60 degrees; and sushi rolls at 57 degrees. All of the food items were discarded.

Inside the walk-in cooler, the inspector found multiple food items without date markings to ensure their freshness and safety. In addition, frozen shrimp was left sitting out to thaw; a reach-in cooler that required close temperature control for safety had no thermometer; the scoop for cooked rice was stored in stagnant water; clean knives were stored between two heavily soiled food-preparation tables; and a clean cutting board was being stored on the floor. The most recent previously published inspection report for the restaurant dates back to January 2017.

Q Casino, 1855 Greyhound Park Road, Dubuque – During a Nov. 28 visit, an inspector cited the establishment for a broken dishwasher that couldn’t adequately sanitize dishes; for storing raw chicken next to ready-to-eat celery and coleslaw; for pork with wild rice soup that had yet to reach 41 degrees after being cooked and cooled the day before; and for two handwashing sinks in which the hot water couldn’t reach 100 degrees.

The inspector also found fried chicken that was in a hot-holding unit at 118 to 127 degrees, too cool to ensure food safety. The chicken was discarded. In addition, the inspector found pasta salad that had been opened Nov. 13, two weeks prior to the inspection, and “summer fresh salad” that had been opened on Nov. 15. Both salads were discarded.

Abarrotes Carrillo, 903 W. 3rd St., Davenport – During a Nov. 23 visit, an inspector cited the restaurant for 13 violations. Among the problems: The cooler in the meat department had a buildup of raw meat juices and food debris in it, which was a repeat violation; and a knife stored on the magnetic rack in the meat department had a buildup of dried food debris on it.

Also, raw chicken was being stored above raw fish, and raw ground beef was being stored above raw shrimp; most of the prepared foods stored in the kitchen’s reach-in cooler had no date-markings to ensure freshness and safety; several containers of prepared foods in the walk-in cooler were not properly date-marked, which was a repeat violation; and there was no hand soap available at the handwashing sink in the kitchen.

Also, water to the kitchen’s handwashing sink was turned off and the sink was being used to store cleaning products, which was a repeat violation. In addition, “five containers of prepared beef head” were found in the kitchen’s walk-in cooler with preparation dates of Nov. 13, a full 10 days prior to the inspection, and had to be discarded.

Also, a large pot of queso prepared the previous day had to be discarded after it was measured at 52 degrees in the cooler, indicating it still hadn’t cooled to the required level of 41 degrees, which was a repeat violation. The inspector also found containers of diced tomatoes and shredded cheese that were sitting out on the counter at 54 degrees.