Vegas Dirty Dining: Cantina Cancun repeat offender edition

Darcy Spears of Action 13 News reports the latest Dirty Dining headliner is a repeat offender. It’s been three years since their first appearance, but records show they’re still dirty.

dirty_dining__expired_food__roaches_at_r_0_45893867_ver1-0_640_480The last time we were at this location for Dirty Dining, one of the owners shoved a newspaper into the camera lens, pushed the photographer out and locked Spears in.

That was March 2013.

That’s when the new owners first took over the restaurant on Maryland Parkway between Reno and Tropicana avenues.

It was called Ahogadas Cancun. It’s now called Cantina Cancun.

This time, things were much more quiet.

Turns out Cantina Cancun is closed on Tuesdays. That’s their choice, but on Aug. 26, they were forced to shut down after health inspectors gave them 42 demerits.

Forty-two is enough to shut a place down on demerits alone. But Cantina Cancun added the imminent health hazard of no hot water.

They also had live roaches.

When we contacted, the person who answered disconnected and it went to voicemail when we called back. We spoke to someone again later and left more messages, but never got any answers.

Health inspectors found expired food, including multiple seafood items, cheese and beans that should have been tossed more than a week before the inspection. But it was all still sitting in the fridge.

There was also lots of food that had to be thrown out because of unsafe temperatures, utensils that hadn’t been washed since the day before, and the stove had excessive build-up. The person in charge couldn’t tell the inspector the last time it was cleaned.

Of the four imminent health hazard closures, the grossest pictures came from the food truck that serves as the pool snack bar at the Plaza hotel-casino.

It was shut down for lack of adequate refrigeration. Just about every food in the facility was at an unsafe temperature.

Plus, inspectors found multiple foods with “Severe signs of spoilage.”

There’s a salad made with feta cheese and cucumber at the top of the menu. But cucumbers on the truck were discolored, spotted with mold and squishy.

And their large container of feta cheese had expired in February.

The Oscar burger comes topped with arugula, but that was wilted, brown and deteriorating.

Cantina Cancun grill is back to an A grade.

Raw is risky: Seattle’s Toulouse-Petit closed during food-poisoning investigation

Toulouse is one of my favorite French cities.

horse_meat_09Why is it the name on a restaurant in Seattle?

Laura Fonda of Queen Anne View reports that Toulouse-Petit Kitchen & Lounge (601 Queen Anne Ave N) has been temporarily closed down by King County heath officials as they investigate possible food poisoning at the restaurant.

According to King County Public Health, six out of seven people from the same party ate at the restaurant and became ill with symptoms consistent with a bacterial infection such as Salmonellosis or Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.  The potential food source is still under investigation, but Public Health notes that the party had consumed food items that may increase the risk of foodborne illness, including raw beef and raw egg.

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-5-27-45-pmPublic Health investigated the restaurant today and found “several problems including room temperature storage, inadequate refrigeration and improper cooling of potentially hazardous foods and cross contamination, which resulted in temporary suspension of the restaurant’s permit.”

Of course it never happened before: Dozens sick from Salmonella outbreak at Tennessee fire department fundraiser

State health officials investigated a food poisoning outbreak that sickened potentially dozens of people in Middle Tennessee.

rutherfordcofire5x5The salmonella illness emerged after fundraiser for a volunteer fire department in Rutherford county.

“Salmonella can be very serious and cause death in some people,” said deputy state epidemiologist John Dunn.

No one died, but several people got sick, some hospitalized.

“We know of a number of others — 18 total so far and hearing of more and all attended the Lascassas Fire Department fish fry on September 10th,” said Dunn.

More than 400 people attended the event at the station on Lascassas Pike. The meal included fried fish and chicken along with homemade white beans other sides an array of desserts.

Since then, many were sickened by salmonella and shared their experiences on Facebook.

One woman lost 15 pounds, another ended up in the hospital, and one was sick for over a week and still not 100 percent.

This was the first time something like this has ever happened at a Lascassas Volunteer Fire fundraiser.


23 years late, Chipotle gets food safety religion (or so they lecture)

I just registered for an Ice Hockey Australia Level 2 coaching course.

The course is rarely offered, and there’s only a couple of level 2 coaches in Queensland. It will take 25 hours of training to complete.

dp-sorenne-becThat’s on top of the 16 hours I put in for Coach 1 in Australia, and recertification every two years.

It’s similar to the Intermediate Level Coach status I had in Canada back in 2001, which was required to coach a rep or travel team.

It’s a lot of time, sitting in a classroom, and on the ice.

I view it as my church, my community service.

So when Chipotle makes a big deal saying all of its managers will be trained in food safety the ServSafe way, I shrug, and ask, why weren’t they before?

How far was Chipotle’s head up its own moralistic ass that it paid more attention to food porn – like hormones and GE foods – than to food safety, the things that make people barf?

Great, you’re going to require training. Anyone ask if the training is any good? Third-party audits? Nice soundbite but they’re just a paycheck. Handwashing every thirty minutes? McDonald’s have been doing that for decades (you’d think Chipotle would have picked that up when they were partnered with McDonald’s, but no, there was food porn to peddle).

The Chipotle announcement reads like a moralistic lecture, and that no one had discovered food safety before.

A year after the outbreaks, Chipotle is now getting into standard PR – which it should have done months ago (Chipotle, your communication advisors absolutely suck). The full page ad, the video, the push for food safety.

Guacamole, for instance, now takes advantages of the cleansing properties of the lemon and lime juices in the recipe. Before getting mixed, the chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapeños are laid on top of avocados and drizzled with citrus juices in one last effort to ensure food safety.

Some scientists may question such tactics, saying they have been supplanted by newer methods. But Dr. James Marsden, Chipotle’s new executive director of food safety, who had recently retired from teaching at Kansas State University (and the father of the actor James Marsden, best known as Cyclops in the “X Men” film series) said he was confident in them.

“We’re doing research and are going to publish papers on what we’re doing, so people can see for themselves that it works,” he said.

That’s all good, but they’re still moralistic assholes who expect people to pay a premium for their food sermons (journos, contact me for Marsden stories).

Chipotle founder and Co-CEO stepped in front of a camera in a bid to win over weary diners that still aren’t hankering for the chain’s once-popular tacos and burritos.

In a video that the Mexican burrito chain unveiled on Wednesday, a contrite Ells admits that last year, the fast-casual restaurant chain “failed to live up to our own food safety standards, and in so doing, we let our customers down. At that time, I made a promise to all of our customers that we would elevate our food safety program.”

chipotleadContrite is not the word I would use.

Looking to revalue Chipotle’s share price is more accurate.

Chipotle initially blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Australian beef for its woes. Today, it blamed social media.

“No one has ever had this kind of a food safety crisis in the era of social media,” Mr. Ells said.

I could list hundreds, beginning with E. coli O157 in spinach in 2006, you arrogant poser.

“Jack In The Box,” — a burger chain where more than 700 people got sick in 1993 after eating E. coli contaminated meat — “never had to deal with Facebook and Twitter,” he said.

When I coach, I’m always telling kids, and adults, stop blaming the refs, go score a goal, stop whinging.

What is fresh? Australian beef in the U.S.?

Is this guy stealing from Trump’s playbook?

It’s slogans and hucksterism.

Which Americans seem to go for.

And Mr. Ells, since you seem content on lecturing Americans about food safety, while blaming others, here’s a history lesson.

In the Fall of 1994, Intel computer chips became scrutinized by the computer geeks, and then the public.

Intel had delayed responding to allegations, and Wall Street analysts at the time said it was the result of a corporate culture accustomed to handling technical issues rather than addressing customers’ hopes and fears.

On Monday, Nov. 12, 1994, the International Business Machines Corp. abruptly announced that its own researchers had determined that the Pentium flaw would lead to division errors much more frequently than Intel said. IBM said it was suspending shipments of personal computers containing the Pentium chip

Mr. Grove was stunned. The head of IBM’s PC division, Richard Thoman, had given no advance warning. A fax from Thoman arrived at Intel’s HQ on Monday morning after the IBM announcement, saying he had been unable to find Grove’s number during the weekend. Mr. Grove, whose number is listed, called directory assistance twice to ask for his own number to ensure he was listed.

After the IBM announcement, the number of calls to Santa Clara overwhelmed the capacity of AT&T’s West Coast long-distance telephone switching centres, blocking calls. Intel stock fell 6.5 per cent

Only then, Mr. Grove said, did he begin to realize that an engineer’s approach was inappropriate for a consumer problem.

Intel took out full-page ads, apologized, and did better.

That was in months, not a year.

Mr. Ells, you can claim you’re in uncharted territory, that no one has experienced the woes like you have, that fresh is a meaningful term.

But it’s just a repeat.

Customers may expect you to have the humility to admit such failings when driven by the hubris of your own beliefs.

But hey, anyone who can get Americans to believe that 1,000 calorie burritos are healthy can do anything you damn well please.

And customers will bow down.

Investors. I wouldn’t touch it. But I said that in 2007.


UK cockroach-infested curry house shut down after insects found crawling in chef hats

And more about those UK chefs.

A cockroach-infested curry house in north-east London has been ordered to shut its doors after it was discovered crawling with insects, including in chef hats.

currySouth Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant Palii Maamala in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, was closed following fears it risked customers’ health.

Food safety inspectors uncovered an infestation of cockroaches and nymphs inside the “filthy” kitchen with droppings found on shelves containing open food and dinner plates.

Insects were also seen living in a box of paper hats worn by the chefs while the cooker was thick with grease in conditions described as “disgusting”.

Containers were encrusted with old food with the filth witnessed across the entire building including an upstairs function room where cockroaches were also found.

Waltham Forest Council issued an immediate hygiene order for the curry house to shut following an inspection on Monday, September 12 over a number of food safety breaches.

The order was received at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday September 14, confirming the closure.


UK cafe boss fined £20,000 after failing to act on health and hygiene concerns

About those UK chefs, a café who flouted hygiene and safety rules has been slapped with a £20,000 fine.

crown-cafe-southendThe Crown Café, in Southchurch Road, Southend, were fined after Hygiene Improvement Notices and one Health and Safety Improvement Notice were not acted upon.

During an inspection at the Crown Café in August 2015, a Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner from Southend Council found the café had no wash hand basin for hand washing only in the kitchen, no documented food safety management system to ensure the safe production of foods and a lack of maintenance to the electrical installation at the café.

As a result, two Hygiene Improvement Notices and one Health and Safety Improvement Notice were served on The Crown Café/ Bistro Limited for the attention of the owner, Agneska De’Ath (nee Janaszek).

Subsequent visits to the café on September 15 and 18 found the improvement notices had not been acted upon. 

Ms De’Ath (nee Janaszek), who is the director of the Crown Café/ Bistro Limited, and her limited company were found guilty at Southend Magistrates Court on September 14 for two food hygiene offences and one health and safety offence, which occurred at the Crow Café.

Magistrates heard the evidence given by Ms Janaszek and found her and her limited company guilty to three offences. 

Liverpool restaurant fined £14,000

How good are those UK chefs?

(Thanks to the reader who sent this in.)

mouse-chefRed Hot World Buffet in Liverpool One shopping centre was fined £14,000 after inspectors found an infestation of mice in the kitchen. It was also ordered to pay £7,816 costs after admitting breaching health and safety regulations.

The pic (right, exactly as shown) was from the chef’s office, with mouse shit everywhere.

Owners Passepartouts Ltd pleaded guilty to 10 counts at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court after mice droppings and beetle larvae were found during an inspection.

The restaurant closed in June and the owners are now in administration.

Environmental health officers visited the restaurant twice last year.

Live mice were caught on sticky traps and mouse droppings and grease were found next to food containers and near fridges.

BS credentials (journos, ask her a food safety question) Australian resort cited for food service violations

Christopher Walsh of Northern Territory News reports former CLP candidate Carolyn Reynolds has been cited on numerous occasions by the Department of Health for serious food service violations at her Lake Bennett Resort including staff not washing their hands, serving questionable food and keeping an “unsanitary” kitchen.

carolyn-reynoldsEnvironmental Health inspection documents obtained by the NT News show Ms Reynolds was written up in early June for a number of breaches of the Food Act, including not having proper potable water on premises and improper hygiene of employees. A follow-up review of the premises known as “Eagle Nest” restaurant showed serious breaches continued at the resort as late as June 23.

“Observation of staff — no handwashing in between duties,” the follow-up report states. “No soap in soap dispenser.

“Defrosting of foods — to be defrosted in coolroom, at time of inspection chicken breasts were defrosting in sink … not safe.”

The inspection also found expired food was stored in the same place as food she was serving customers. She was lectured then about “best before” and “use by” dates.

Department of Health officials confirmed Ms Reynolds was written-up for violations of the Food Act after “numerous complaints” but that no action was taken and that they “continue to work with the proprietor”.

“Environmental Health officers have visited the premises on a number of occasions, as recent as August and served food improvement notices to address issues identified,” a Health Department spokeswoman said. “The proprietor has taken appropriate follow up action.”

But photos taken last week, seen by the NT News, show unsanitary kitchen conditions remain, including dead cockroaches on shelves, unclean cooking areas, out of date cheeses and mouldy foodstuffs in coolers.

A former employee told the NT News Ms Reynolds would routinely serve old and expired food to customers — as late as last week. The employee also said she personally witnessed “Carolyn preparing food without washing her hands, without wiping down benches and using unclean knives quickly wiped on a dirty tea towel”.

Ms Reynolds denied all the allegations, saying she sacked kitchen staff recently “because some people hadn’t been doing things while I was doing the election”.

She added she is a “certified microbiologist” and knows about food safety. The Australian Society for Microbiology said yesterday they had no record of Ms Reynolds as a member.

“I fully understand all aspects of safe food, unfortunately, we in society probably throw away a lot more food than we should,” Ms Reynolds said. She added that claims she served children expired meat were “rubbish.”

“In no way on earth would I risk my reputation both as a chartered biologist and a business owner and as a person who loves children …” she said. “I would not risk harming children.”

Ms Reynolds, who ran for the seat of Goyder, said she was in “desperate” need of a good chef and that she may be forced to bring cooks in from the UK soon.

And they know what about food safety?


E. coli outbreak shows need for restaurant grading system

Paula Wissel of KNKX reports the Washington Department of Health is still investigating this month’s E. coli outbreak that forced a Seattle restaurant to close temporarily. The Matador in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood has now reopened, but the source of the E. coli that sickened several patrons remains a mystery. Meanwhile, food safety advocates say this latest scare underscores the need for a promised restaurant grading system to be implemented quickly by public health officials.

barf-o-meter_-dec_-12-216x300-216x3001-216x300-1-216x300Back in 1993, Sarah Schacht, along with her mother and little brother, was sickened in the deadly E. coli outbreak linked to undercooked hamburgers at Jack in the Box.  Then, a few years ago, she contracted the foodborne illness again.

“The experience of getting E. coli the second time was much worse. It was feeling like my stomach was being ripped open, I had extreme cramping and I was in and out of the hospital,” Schacht said.

She is one of the primary proponents of restaurants in King County being required to post placards showing what score they received from the health department. She sat on a stakeholders panel convened by the county to come up with a system. Although Public Health of Seattle and King County announced several years ago they were going to implement a system, it has yet to be put in place, which frustrates Schacht.

“They’ve continually rolled back deadlines for this program and so it’s been disappointing to see another outbreak and no posted signs,” Schacht said.

In response, county health officials says they want to make sure that when it launches, the grading system is consistent across eating establishments. The health department has conducted a series of studies to try and figure out how best to obtain that consistency.  A grading system pilot program is scheduled to begin in January.


Here’s a couple of suggestions:

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009. The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information. Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.

larry-the_-cable_-guy_-health-inspector-213x300-213x3001-213x300-1-213x300The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.


Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2011. Designing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Journal of Food Protection 74(11): 1869-1874

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the premises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.


Owner of filthy UK takeaway ordered to pay £6,000 for disgusting breaches of hygiene

The owner of this disgusting takeaway has been found guilty of serious food hygiene offences following an inspection by Food Safety Officers.

oceana-takeawayMohammed Ejaz, of Oceana Takeaway, appeared before magistrates where he pleaded guilty to seven food safety and hygiene breaches.

The offences included failure to keep the premise and equipment clean and failure to control food safety hazards.

The prosecution against the owner of the takeaway in Ingoldmells was brought by East Lindsey District Council.

Lincoln magistrates fined Ejaz £1,750 with costs of £4,676, plus a victim surcharge of £25.

Laura Hackney, prosecuting on behalf of East Lindsey District Council, said: “The district council was called from a member of the public on January 7 regarding rats at the premises.”

Food safety inspectors found a trail of filth when they inspected the premises, including dirty surfaces and equipment, rusty pizza trays and microwave; and badly scored chopping boards.

Those handling food were not wearing protective clothing and documented food safety procedures were not available.

Oceana Takeaway received a zero out of five food hygiene rating as a result of the inspection.

The district council classified conditions at the takeaway as being capable of causing “adverse effect to individuals”.

Ejaz admitted he had not given the takeaway the attention it needed.

In mitigation, he said: “I do try hard.

“I have spent two years working and I have not made anything.

“My son became ill and it means I have not been able to give the time to the restaurant.”

Ejaz, who is currently living at Ingoldmells Service Station, insisted standards have improved following the inspection in January.