Journalism works: Philly restaurants get same-day health inspections

Philadelphia this week joined other major American cities in publicly releasing same-day restaurant inspection reports rather than waiting a month, a policy critics said kept diners in the dark about potential health risks.

rocky.phillyFor the last three decades, diners in Philadelphia have unknowingly patronized restaurants cited for serious hygiene problems including mouse droppings, improperly refrigerated food and managers oblivious of the basic tenets of food safety.

Health department officials said the city’s longstanding 30-day secrecy policy was meant to give eatery owners time to challenge inspection results. Yet it was a practice that surprised health officials in other big cities.

The same-day release of inspection results follows an Inquirer/ report that found Philadelphia was the only major city in the United States to withhold results for a significant length of time. The results are available from the city, or more conveniently, on the Clean Plates website:

This week, health department sanitarians dropped in on dozens of eateries throughout the city. Among the most sharply criticized were a Drexel University dining hall, two South Philly watering holes and an upscale burger joint in Center City.

Florida food truck ‘Roach egg sack floating in the steam table’ and no license

Doug Trovillion, owner of the Orlando, Florida food truck named Kona Dog, might want to purchase some RAID and get a license because according to recent inspections, he has neither.

food.truckHis food truck, Kona Dog food truck, was inspected on August 19th & 20th, during which time the inspectors found several violations including operating without a license (twice), a roach egg sack floating in the steam table, 11 live roaches observed by the inspector, the operator killing two roaches with his bare hands  then touching a pack of hot dogs without washing his hands among many, many other violations.

Below is a list of all violations noted during Trovillion’s August 19 & 20 inspections.

You can read these inspections in full here.

It was the mousse: 21 sickened with E. coli O157 linked to Nevada producer

An E. coli outbreak that sickened nearly two dozen people and prompted a restaurant in south Reno to voluntarily close has been linked to a dessert food manufactured, sold, and distributed by Reno Provisions, the Washoe County Health District announced Friday afternoon.

ccmarquis22“Our epidemiologists and environmental health staff have identified a dessert that was prepared by Reno Provisions,” Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick said in a news release. “Several people who ate at the Twisted Fork restaurant had the dessert, as did some other people outside the Reno area who then developed the E. coli infection. That commonality led investigators to the dessert supplier, and to tests of food and equipment at Reno Provisions.”

In a prepared statement released Friday, Mark Estee, owner of Reno Provisions, said, in part: “Reno Provisions has taken aggressive steps to make sure its facilities are safe and meet and exceed all food preparation standards … we offer our deepest apologies to all who have been effected by this outbreak. The entire Reno Provisions team has been working tirelessly to solve this problem and ensure that it never happens again.”

The Health District said it will now shift its investigation from the restaurant to the manufacturer. The Health District confirmed that all of the remaining desserts associated with e-coli contaminations have been disposed of.

Since mid-October, 21 confirmed or probable cases of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported in Washoe County.

The owner of Reno Provisions says the the E. coli outbreak has been traced back to a small batch of the restaurant’s Chocolate Marquis Mousse, which “has since been disposed of and discontinued.”

The owner of Reno Provisions says the the E. coli outbreak has been traced back to a small batch of the restaurant’s Chocolate Marquis Mousse, which “has since been disposed of and discontinued.”

Sushi can suck: Aussie shop found with cockroaches, temperature, cleanliness problems

A Woden sushi shop is facing hefty fines after health authorities uncovered a cockroach infestation, a dishwasher that was repeatedly recycling dirty water and an overheated display cabinet. 

sushiFood safety inspectors first raided the now-closed Sizzle Bento store in Woden Plaza in May 2011, finding a host of breaches that potentially put customers at risk. 

Cockroaches were seen in the food preparation area and gaps in the walls, ceilings and floors were said to be allowing the insects to crawl into the room.

The sushi display cabinet was being kept at warm temperatures of about 10 degrees, instead of the recommended five degrees or less, court documents said.

The kitchen and food preparation area was dirty and grease was building up on the ceiling, sprinklers, the fridge, and on floors.

Rice and other food was not being stored properly and the shop was warned not to store items in shopping bags, ice cream containers or plastic bins. 

A second inspection was conducted in September 9, 2011, and cleanliness and food storage problems were again detected.

The business had to be shut down temporarily due to drainage problems with the dishwasher, which prosecutors say were causing dirty water to be recycled through the machine, leaving dishes dirty and unsafe.

It was allowed to resume trading five days later. 

How will this be inspected? Best will market food safety; new food apps could see home cooks takeout takeaways

No one invites me for dinner; they know I’m a food safety asshole (who carries a tip-sensitive digital thermometer in his backpack). don’t like charity cooking, I don’t like when I don’t know how the food was prepared, and I don’t like sausage sizzles, apparently part of Australian culture.

I want to celebrate food, I want to eat and share stories, but there are so many tales every day of people messing up the basics.

When we went to a (ice) hockey tournament a couple of months ago, I volunteered to call up the local health types and ensure a sausage sizzle was OK.

Sure, as long as it’s for charity.

I had to take a 16 hour course to coach little kids in hockey in Australia (because my Canadian experience didn’t count) but needed nothing to prepare food that could sicken those same little kids.

So this seems like a bad idea.

We could soon be bidding farewell to the fish and chip shop and saying ta-ta to the takeaway Thai if a plan to transform the way we eat, in the same way Uber has shaken up how we travel, takes off., industry experts have warned that if restaurants don’t find a way to respond to the challenge they will be the losers as Australians turn to their next door neighbours for dinner rather than head out to the local takeaway.

However, there are concerns bureaucratic red tape could halt any moves to create a new future of food in its tracks.

Last week, 100 of Australia’s ‘foodie-prenuers’ gathered in Sydney for HackFood, a meeting place to thrash out the most innovative ideas to transform the food industry.

One of the most promising initiatives to emerge for the gathering, and one that is already in development, could see Australians turning their backs on takeout forever.

“It’s the UberX and Airbnb of home cooked meals,” said Jennifer Callaghan of the HomeCooked app she has created with partner Josh MacNamara.

Ms Callaghan said there were currently three options for people to eat: prepare at home, eat at a restaurant or order takeout. The new app added a fourth choice — local people cooking dinner for you.

“A home cook could say I’m going to make 10 servings of Thai green curry on a certain date and the person wanting to eat could flick through and see what’s cooking in their local area.

“You could request and pick it up then or order ahead for another day,” said Ms Callaghan who envisaged busy professionals stopping by their neighbours for takeaway containers of Indian goat curry or mac and cheese on the way home from work. similar apps, such as MyTable, are available in countries such as the US and India, she said no such technology existed in Australia.

According to IBISWorld the Australian takeaway food industry has annual revenues of $4bn and employs around 15,000 people with Eagle Boys and Domino’s some of the biggest players.

The business partners had done research that showed 80 per cent of people in inner city neighbourhoods would be open to buying a home cooked meal from a neighbour as an alternative to a takeaway.

Students and stay-at-home mums might jump at the idea of cooking for other local people, said Ms Callaghan who hope to launch HomeCooked in early 2016.

However, the challenges to this new way of eating are significant with established players unlikely to welcome a digital newcomer disrupting the status quo and food safety regulations designed around traditional food outlets.

Last year, Bunbury schoolgirl Chelsea-lee Downes found her roadside stall selling lemonade and cupcakes shut down by the local council because the food was produced in a domestic rather than commercial kitchen.

All cooks would have to take out insurance and there would be a “verification process” similar to that used by Airbnb, said Ms Callaghan. But she admitted the legality of selling food cooked up in a standard kitchen was unclear. “It’s a grey area and we’re talking to people in the industry around the ways of overcoming those areas but there has been a paradigm shift in how we access transport, lifestyle, and now food and things are changing no matter what,” she said.

you' principal of food compliance specialists FoodLegal, Joe Lederman, told regulations covering food preparation varied from place to place. “It’s a question of attitude, some regulators are in the business of encouraging new business and some are hostile to anyone who’s not commercial.

“It’s a similar experience with taxis, in some places they are more open and others take the approach it’s not the way forward and should not be done.”

‘Highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene’ 56 sickened in Norovirus outbreak at UK bar

Fifty-six people who fell ill after attending functions at a bar in Bridgend county had the norovirus, it has been confirmed.

Hi-Tide bar in PorthcawlPublic Health Wales said the Hi-Tide bar in Porthcawl remains open after the outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting.

The outbreak has now been declared over.

A bar spokesman said: “We are confident that we provided, and will continue to provide, the very highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene.”

“We would like to wish all those affected a full and speedy recovery,” the spokesman added.

Tampa’s Authentic Mexican food restaurant receives over 50 violations in 5 months

Ismael Rivera loves the authentic Mexican dishes at Taco Rey Mexican Grill on 1441 East Fletcher Avenue in Tampa, eating there three times a week.

Taco Rey Mexican Grill“I got three tacos coming in with rice and beans. I got a whole meal coming in for the whole family,” Ismael said.

But Ismael had no idea the state found insects, crawling and flying near his family’s food.

“Yeah, I didn’t know that about them,” he admitted.

Our ABC Action News I-Team has discovered inspectors saw live and dead roaches in the reach-in cooler, on top of the freezer, and on floors, walls and boxes in October.

And ‘too many flies to count’ near produce along with over 50 more flies in other parts of the kitchen, according to the inspection report.

“That’s a little upsetting to hear that, since you figure that’s where you eating,” Ismael said.

And it’s not just bugs.

We’re just uncovering the state finding pork and eggs at dangerous temperatures that could make you sick.

Pork was sitting on the cook’s line at 84 degrees and raw shell eggs were left out at room temperature at 85 degrees.

Cold food should be 41 degrees or below and hot food should be 135 degrees or above.

So what’s management doing to fix the food safety issues?

ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan went to Taco Rey to find out.

“I wanted to talk to someone about your recent inspections from the state,” Ryan asked the employee at the front counter.

But that female employee said the manager and owner were not there and wouldn’t be back until the next day.

No one could answer to the 52 violations documented in the last 5 months, including employees thawing beef at room temperature, employees failing to wash their hands, plastic containers of lard on the floor along with to-go boxes, no proof of required employee training and black/green mold in the ice machine.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: Trump Steakhouse edition

A Las Vegas Strip restaurant bearing the initials of celebrity financier Donald Trump was briefly shut down after health inspectors found violations including month-old caviar and expired yogurt.

donald.trumpDJT, the signature steakhouse at the Trump International Hotel, reopened Nov. 2 with a restored “A” grade — several hours after Southern Nevada Health District officials logged 51 violations during a routine inspection.

Thirty violations merit a “C” grade, district spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore said Friday.

Inspectors reported finding outdated, expired, unlabeled, mishandled and improperly stored food, according to a summary posted on the health district’s website. The closure was first reported by KTNV-TV as part of a “Dirty Dining” segment focused on area restaurants.

Inspectors found no measures to destroy parasites in undercooked halibut and salmon, and noted that raw tuna was being improperly thawed. Icicles were found in a faulty freezer.

Add food safety cards: Texas restaurant hands out rule cards instructing how kids should act

A restaurant is hoping to pre-empt unruly child behavior by giving parents with kids a rule card about proper table manners when they get seated.

cuchara_english-570x398Can diners have food safety cards they can hand to staff?

For the last few months, d, a Mexican restaurant located in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, has been handing out illustrated cards to families that come in to dine. The colourful card shows a happy family eating with text below that reads:

“Children at Cuchara don’t run or wander around the restaurant. They stay seated and ask their parents to take sthem to the rest room. They don’t scream, throw tantrums or touch the walls, murals, windows or other patrons. They are respectful!”

According to TV news service KHOU, the restaurant isn’t trying to discourage parents from bringing in their kids but they do want diners to be mindful of how their children behave.

The move comes after the restaurant suffered $1500 in damage six months ago, when a child scratched one of its walls featuring hand painted murals by Mexico City artist Cecilia Beaven.

So far, the restaurant says the reaction to the cards has been overwhelmingly positive.

Going public: Restaurant inspection disclosure makes Birmingham politician ‘sad’

Birmingham’s food safety chief has attacked the Birmingham Mail for highlighting takeaways which could be at risk of giving customers food poisoning.

barbara.dring.birminghamChairman of the council’s licensing and public protection committee Barbara Dring told colleagues she was ‘saddened’ that the list of 127 takeaways and restaurants with zero-ratings for food hygiene on October 28, 2015 was published by the Birmingham Mail.

The food hygiene ratings are given by council inspectors so that customers are aware which kitchens are clean and well run and which have been found to be dirty, selling out of date food, have cockroaches or rats or other problems.

The council then publishes the results online via the Food Standards Agency website after an undetermined period for any appeals to be lodged.

The principle is that bad takeaways and restaurants are named and shamed.

But Coun Dring (Oscott) said: “I find it sad that the newspaper wants to knock Birmingham in this fashion.

She said that a prosecution followed and the club was fined £1,200 and made to pay £800 costs.

Conservative councillor Gary Sambrook (Kingstanding) said: “Birmingham residents deserve to know what the outcome of food hygiene inspections are.

“It’s shocking to think that the city council wants to try and muzzle the press, so that residents aren’t clear on the hygiene ratings of their local takeaway.