Fancy food ain’t safe food: Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant shuts down after 14 diners suffer food poisoning

A Michelin-starred restaurant in Japan has been ordered to shut temporarily after 14 people got food-poisoning on a fancy Japanese-style meal.

Kita Kamakura Saryo GentoanThe Kanagawa Prefectural Government said officials were investigating after six men and eight women complained of diarrhea and stomach pains after eating at Kita Kamakura Saryo Gentoan on June 11.

Among items on their menu were squid, jelly with sea urchin, pumpkin cooked with fish, eel and sweets, according to the prefecture.

A picturesque restaurant among the trees of Kamakura, a coastal town south of Tokyo, it was known for serving meals in quiet Japanese-style rooms.

The restaurant closed on its own on June 14. The prefecture’s order was made June 20 and remains effective until the cause is determined. Usually, such closures last a few days.

Yelp reviews & Anchorage restaurant health reports just a click away

Next time you look up a restaurant on your phone you can find the business in Yelp reviews along with its food inspection report.

ny_rest_inspect_disclosureMonday the city released more information from its “open data” initiative, which aims to make information more easily available on multiple platforms.

Anchorage food inspection results will now be available on Yelp.com and on Muni.org. The city says information is provided with a LIVES (Local Inspector Value-Entry Specification) open data source link to Yelp.

Yelp will also include a summary of the violations for the past three years of inspections.

“You’re already looking for restaurant information why not put the restaurant inspection data there instead of having to go to the muni site, just give you more information where people are looking for it,” said Brendan Babb, from the city’s Chief Innovation Office.

 

E. coli O157 victim sues over outbreak at Vietnamese restaurant in Colorado

The Denver Post reports the family of a 14-year-old Denver boy hospitalized weeks ago after ingesting E.coli-tainted food filed suit Thursday in Arapahoe County against the Vietnamese restaurant where he ate, alleging a pattern of recklessness in how food is prepared and handled.

noah.thompson.pho_.75-1The restaurant, Pho 75 on South Havana Street in Aurora, was allowed to re-open Wednesday, five days after it was shuttered by Tri-County Health Department officials who determined four people — all of them under 18 — were infected with the same strain of E. coli-O157:H7 after eating there sometime between May 24 and June 10.

Officials said the restaurant Tuesday passed an inspection for cleanliness and that employees were trained in proper food handling practices.

The illnesses occurred just three months after health officials cited the restaurant for a number of foodborne safety risks during a routine inspection, then gave Pho 75 employees extensive training on safe-food handling, officials confirmed Thursday.

“Rather than just check the box, we really spent some time in there to teach them,” said Brian Hlavacek, director of environmental health at Tri-County. “We really did quite a bit of teaching and education on the trends we were seeing and we spent the extra time with them.”

But because Colorado is like Canberra, mere mortals who spent their money on a meal at Pho 75 wouldn’t know the restaurant had a history of sucking at safety, because the governor got rid of restaurant inspection disclosure at the door.

Noah Thompson ate there on May 24 with his parents, who also were sickened though not to the extent Thompson suffered, the lawsuit alleges.

Thompson remains hospitalized with complications from hemolytic uremic syndrome, a sometimes-lethal affliction that comes from ingesting E. coli-tainted food. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to HUS, for which there is no cure.

Thompson’s father, Marc Thompson, told The Denver Post his son nearly needed a blood transfusion and is finally improving. He said the experience “really scared us and made us think twice about what we’re eating.”

Attorneys for the family said vegetables were the common ingredient in the foods they ate at Pho 75, and that each ordered a different item. Thompson had eaten a noodle bowl, attorneys said.

“From what I see from the (inspection) reports, it’s no surprise there was an outbreak,” said Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who is representing Thompson. “Perhaps the question is why were they still open?”

From the Ministry of Doublespeak: Canberra eateries score worst hygiene result after government ditches food ratings

More Canberra eateries than ever failed hygiene checks in the same year the ACT government ditched its proposal for “scores on doors” restaurant safety ratings.

doublespeakMarkus Mannheim of The Canberra Times writes that in the past year, three in every 10 inspections found failures to comply with public health laws, twice as many as the government’s target maximum failure rate.

The result – the worst the Health Directorate has reported – included inspections of other types of premises, such as pharmacies, but the government said most failures related to unsafe food practices.

It was the fifth consecutive year in which inspection pass rates fell well below the official target of 85 per cent.

However, industry group Restaurants and Catering Australia says the result shows that inspections are now tougher, not that hygiene practices are worse.

Its chief executive, John Hart, said the ACT’s worst food-poisoning cases had involved raw-egg products, such as mayonnaise, which inspections would not have prevented.

It would have prevented them if inspectors told restaurants, don’t be a dumb-ass and use raw eggs in a dish meant for many.

But that would have raised the ire of industry.

Government is no better, with Assistant Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris’s spokeswoman saying some failures were for “smaller things, like a battery not in a thermometer.”

It’s not a useful f*cking thermometer without a battery, but that would depend on someone actually using the thermometer, which the vast majority of Australians don’t.

The government pledged five years ago to crack down on unhygienic restaurants in the wake of Canberra Times reports on laws that prevented dirty eateries from being identified.

However, few changes have been introduced since, other than new requirements for staff training and a register of convictions for the most serious food-safety breaches.

The register lists very few breaches and only identifies the businesses years after an offence, often after the eatery closes or has new owners.

The now-closed Copa Brazilian restaurant in Dickson, for example, where a salmonella outbreak poisoned more than 160 people three years ago, was never listed on the register, as the matter remains before court.

By contrast, several jurisdictions internationally, including British councils, publish all health inspection reports.

However, industry groups – such as the hotels association, ClubsACT and the food and grocery council – opposed the policy and the government abandoned the idea last year. Labor and the Greens had voiced support for the scheme before the 2012 election, while the Liberals had questioned the need for it.

jake_gyllenhaal_rest_inspection_disclosure(6)
Mr Hart, of Restaurants and Catering Australia, said the past year’s poor compliance result was simply the result of tougher inspections following high-profile salmonella outbreaks in recent years, such as at The Copa.

“They’re certainly going to much greater lengths to determine compliance. And I think this [latest result] reflects not a decrease in the standards of food safety but an increase in the penetration of the assessment,” he said.

“So we’re in fact not getting worse; we’re just seeing more technical breaches being considered a non-compliance.”

Restaurant owners in Canberra, your trade organization and governments are failing you, yet they’ll still have jobs if your business is hit with foodborne illness. The best always have, and always will, go beyond the minimal standards of government to inspire confidence, so that consumers might spend money in your shop. Take matters into your own (washed) hands rather than bear witness to the rise of idiocracy.

Will fewer people barf? Ho Chi Minh City plans food safety agency

Ho Chi Minh City authorities are planning to set up a major food safety agency as the number of food poisoning cases has been on the rise.

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The new agency, directly managed by the city’s administration, will have more authority in coordinating with relevant agencies and handling violations, according to the plan.

The current food safety agency of the city, managed by the Department of Health, has limited personnel and authority, the city’s Interior Department said in the plan.

A total of 248 people were hospitalized for food poisoning in the first four months this year, according to the Food Safety Agency. That was nearly equal to the number of patients with food poisoning in 2015. 

UK restaurant owner fined £10k for food hygiene breaches

The owner of an Italian restaurant has been hit with fines totalling £10,000 after pleading guilty to seven food hygiene breaches.

mediciMehdi Karimian, who runs Medici’s restaurant in North Ferriby, appeared at Beverley Magistrates’ Court yesterday to answer the charges, which related to a routine visit by food safety inspectors last year. The court heard how on July 29 inspectors found an accumulation of “dirt and grease” across the walls, ceiling and floors of the restaurant kitchen.

Structural issues left food at risk of contamination and the inside of a freezer lid was found to have a build-up of mould. The kitchen ceiling was discoloured from an accumulation of grease and a chopping board used to prepare food was found to be “worn and dirty”.

Mr Karimian was not present at the restaurant on the day, but met with inspectors when they visited again the next day. The levels of dirt and grease were deemed to be so deeply ingrained that the owner was advised to close the restaurant temporarily while the premises was professionally cleaned as it was thought to be beyond the capabilities of his staff.

He blamed the shortcomings on his workers and chef, who he had handed over the day-to-day running of Medici’s to as he recovered from a serious operation on his ankle.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Another Whole Foods edition

Condensation from ceiling pipes dripping on food. Sounds like a familiar food safety risk.

whole.foodsBut nasty things like engineering concerns are of little concern to new-age companies doing its utmost to squeeze more profits by dressing up crap with adjectives.

Megan Woolhouse of the Boston Globe reports the Food and Drug Administration has warned Whole Foods Markets to resolve serious violations found at a regional food preparation facility in Everett after inspectors discovered condensation from ceiling pipes dripping on food, as well as evidence of Listeria.

Last week, the federal agency sent a lengthy letter to Whole Foods citing an extensive list of food safety violations during multiple visits in February to the company’s kitchen in Everett, which makes ready-to-eat foods for 74 stores in Northeastern states.

The agency said Whole Foods’ initial response to the violations was unacceptable because the company did not offer sufficient documentation about how it would correct the problems at the 70,000-square-foot facility and ensure compliance with health and safety rules.

“FDA has serious concerns that our investigators found your firm operating under these conditions,” according to the June 8 warning letter, which was first reported by Bloomberg.

Whole Foods’ global vice president of operations, Ken Meyer, said in a statement issued Tuesday evening that he was “honestly surprised” by the warning and that the company has taken “thorough and tangible steps” to address problems. “We’ve been in close contact with the FDA, opened our doors to inspectors regularly since February, and worked with them to address every issue brought to our attention,” Meyer said.

FDA inspectors who visited the Everett plant, known as Whole Foods Market North Atlantic Kitchen, wrote that they saw condensation dripping onto surfaces where dishes such as pesto pasta and mushroom quesadillas were being prepared or stored, as well as uncovered barrels of egg salad “that were placed in an area below the condenser. Condensate was observed to be dripping at a rate of approximately once per second.”

ass.whole.foodsThe FDA inspectors also found a type of Listeria that indicated the presence of a more severe form of the germ when they tested swabs of more than 100 surfaces throughout the facility. The letter said it found Listeria welshimeri, a form of the bacteria that the FDA said is an indicator of the probable presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a potentially deadly form of the bacteria.

In one instance, the inspectors found that a hand-washing station did not have hot water, yet was used by employees returning from a break before they began preparing food. Inspectors also said they saw an employee spray ammonium-based sanitizer on an open colander of salad greens and found sheet pans used for raw meats and ready-to-eat food products soaking in tanks with inadequate levels of sanitizer.

Yum.

The letter further cited problems with workers using improperly diluted disinfectant in heavier than necessary amounts to clean vegetables.

Whole Foods has 15 business days to respond to the FDA’s letter.

The Everett facility warning is a blow for a company that is generally known for the pride it takes in high-quality products, which typically come with a high price tag. The Austin, Texas based chain is also widely credited with helping to bring about the organic food revolution.

But fancy food ain’t safe food.

One of the most worrisome findings, said Mel Kramer, president of EHA Consulting Group Inc., a Baltimore firm that advises restaurants and food manufacturers on food safety, was the inattention to how vegetables were washed. The use of too much disinfectant, he said, can lead to serious gastric problems such as diarrhea.

“This is pretty serious from a major company that the public generally looks to as a good actor,” said Kramer, who said he had reviewed the FDA warning letter at the request of the Globe. “An inspection is a picture, and the picture during those inspections was pretty poor.”

The Everett warning also comes seven months after Whole Foods voluntarily recalled products prepared and packaged in the same Everett kitchen facility, including curry chicken salad and classic deli pasta salad, after a routine inspection found possible Listeria contamination of the life-threatening sort, according to a list of product recalls posted on the FDA’s website.

Of course people don’t work when they’re sick: Six Ajuua’s employees test positive for Salmonella, 33 sick in total

Six Ajuua’s Mexican Restaurant employees have tested positive for salmonella, but officials do not know if they contracted the infection before or after the outbreak was caught by Ector County health officials.

ajuua'sEctor County Health Department Director Gino Solla said the tests for the six employees came to the department Monday, and the number of lab-confirmed tests has increased to 10 since the outbreak was confirmed on June 6. The number of probable cases, he added, was now at 23.

Those six employees have not been interviewed by the health department, Solla said, adding that when they do, it was unlikely they would confess to carrying the infection while working. Solla added to see if those employees got sick from the food, they would have to test the food that has already been thrown out.

“Common sense tells us no employee is going to say ‘I was sick,’ ” Solla said. “It’s very unlikely they’re going to fess up.”

Julian Rubio, CEO for Ajuua’s, said the six employees who tested positive do not reflect on the cleanliness of the restaurant, referring to the 97 and 100 restaurant report scores Ajuua’s got on Feb. 4 and April 13 respectively.

Rubio also said he was surprised to have six employees test positive.

“These employees never mentioned any signs of being sick or having any symptoms,” Rubio said. “We thought we were going to get everyone back negative.”

Of those 10 lab-confirmed cases, five are men and the other five are women, with an age range between 36 and 84 years old, Solla said. For the probable cases, 13 are men, seven are women and three are unknown, he added.

Colorado restaurant closed, linked to E. coli O157 outbreak

As the Colorado governor essentially got rid of restaurant inspection disclosure at the door, Kent Erdahl of Fox 31 Denver reports that 14-year-old Noah Thompson has spent the entire month of June in the ICU at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

noah.thompson.pho.75“This has been a real struggle for us as a family,” said Marc Thompson, Noah’s father.

That struggle began when Marc Thompson took his family to eat at Pho 75 on May 24. Within hours he and his wife felt stomach pain and had digestive problems, but a few days later Noah experienced much more severe symptoms.

“They immediately admitted him into the emergency room as he was going into kidney failure,” Marc Thompson said. “He had severe pancreatitis.”

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment tells the Problem Solvers that they are investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157 at Pho 75. Noah is the only person hospitalized, but there are three more confirmed cases and the potential for others that have gone unreported.

The Department of Health also indicated that the restaurant is working with the Tri-County Health Department to address the issue. The restaurant closed voluntarily Friday.

When the Problem Solvers visited Pho 75 on Saturday, it was closed but the sign on the door notified customers that it was simply for remodeling.

Though the doors were locked, there were three men eating at tables inside but none of them would come to the door to speak about the E. coli outbreak.

When the Problem Solvers visited the other Pho 75 location a few miles away, which shares the same owner, an employee inside had a different answer.

Employee: “(The owner) is on a vacation right now. They went back to Vietnam for a week.”

The restaurant is well known to health inspectors and the Problem Solvers, getting an ‘F’ on our Restaurant Report Card in 2014.

According to Tri-County Health inspection records, Pho 75 continues to rack up critical violations, specifically for “Food Borne Illness Risk”. The violations range from issues with the storage of raw meat to employee hygiene.

Skanky: Atlanta strip club fails health inspection

Ana Santos of AJC.com reports a popular adult entertainment club in Atlanta failed a restaurant health inspection this week, according to officials.

magic.cityMagic City received a score of 54 on Tuesday after inspectors noted no soap or paper towels at the bar hand sink and improperly washed dishes, according to the report.

A health inspector also noted “severe” build up of debris on the soda gun and moldy sour cream.

Magic City provides bottle service, an extensive drink menu and a lunch and dinner food menu, including chicken wings and burgers.

GQ called Magic City “the most important club in the most important city in the hip-hop industry” in a 2015 documentary.