How would a cafe crawling with adorable kittens pass a D.C. health inspection?

Washington, D.C. learned this week that it could be getting a cat cafe by next year, and Twitter got more excited than a kitten chasing a laser pointer’s red dot. The concept combines a coffee shop and a feline petting zoo; they’re big in Asia, and cat cafes have opened stateside in the Bay Area and New York. But with cats come fur, hairballs and litter boxes. So how does all of this work in an establishment that also offers food service?

catsUnder the current D.C. health code, only service animals are permitted in food establishments. But Crumbs and Whiskers founder Kanchan Singh has been in talks with the D.C. Department of Health as she looks for a space for her business, and thinks she’s worked out a reasonable arrangement.

“Basically, after a couple of months of convincing, what the DOH and I agreed on is that the cat area must be completely sectioned off from the cafe area,” Singh said.

That means that the cat cafe could actually be two separate but adjacent storefronts: One with a kitchen dishing out cake, ice cream and tea, and the other, a jungle gym for cats. Another option is to have a common entrance that leads to both businesses, but with completely segregated entrances to both.

Cross-contamination?

Gray steaks disposed in Georgia restaurant inspection

Some of the steaks at Nicky’s Diner in east Cobb County were gray and in such poor condition that a health inspector had them discarded during a recent routine inspection.

nicky's.dinerThe inspector also recommended more staff training in food safety for the diner at 4751 Sandy Plains Road, Roswell. Among other code violations, there were open bags of brown gravy, grits, sugar and rice, all subject to contamination.

Nicky’s Diner failed the inspection with a 52/U. The restaurant had previous health scores of 92/A and 80/B.

According to the inspection report, employees were using the wrong thermometers to check the temperature of items on the food line. Probes that measure thin foods were needed, but the restaurant did not have this type of thermometer, the inspector said.

Some hot food items were not being held at safe temperatures.

Imagine if this applied to food reviews: UK hotel guests outraged by fine for leaving bad review

A British budget hotel that fined a couple 100 pounds (AUD$180) for writing a bad review about it online has agreed to pay them back and drop its policy of penalising guests who do that, officials said.

bad.reviewTony and Jan Jenkinson told the BBC they discovered the charge on their credit card shortly after they called the hotel as a “filthy, dirty, rotten, stinking hovel” on the travel website TripAdvisor.

The Jenkinsons said that when they questioned the charge from the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool, a seaside town in north-western England, it pointed out the “no-bad-review policy” in its terms and conditions.

Blackpool Council, which investigated the case, said the hotel has now complied with its request to remove the policy.

Indian cricket team gives Australia food for thought in bid to take spice out of test series

Cricket may be more boring than baseball, but at least the wealthy team from India knows what it wants in food safety, and will bring a private chef to Australia this summer.

india.cricket.14Only mild curries such as butter chicken are on India’s list of nutritional requirements, with the explicit instruction of “no spicy foods” written in large, red letters on their list of food demands.

The tourists are also desperate to avoid their millionaire cricketers like MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli becoming sick while in Australia.

They have issued Test venue caterers with pages of hygiene instructions, many of which are simply common sense.

Australia’s cricketers have long suffered Delhi belly while in the subcontinent but India’s elite cricketers won’t hear of having any food germs.

They have ordered that hot dishes must be served at more than 60 degrees Celsius, and cold food below five degrees Celsius, and detailed a long list of food hygiene requirements.

“All utensils should look clean and have no food or anything else visible,’’ the document states.

“All staff must wash their hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water.

“Utensils must be sanitised in a dishwasher at high heat and must be dried before use, with air drying the best method.’’

India’s list of nutritional requirements isn’t as extensive as when England was here last summer and wanted their dressingroom to resemble a Michelin Star restaurant for the Ashes.

The Poms demanded dishes such as piripiri breaded tofu with tomato salsa, a quinoa and cranberry breakfast bar, mungbean curry with spinach and pistachio and ginger biscotti.

India simply insist there must be no spicy or fried foods.

And they say no beef or pork related products should be used in cooking or food preparation, given their high number of vegetarian cricketers.

Cafeterias in Boston hospitals get failing grades

Boston is home to many of the nation’s best hospitals, but the I-Team discovered some of these institutions may not always be as careful with the food they serve as they are with patient care.

UnknownThe I-Team obtained inspection reports for 12 Boston hospitals and we found several facilities failing on many levels. Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Carney Hospital both failed inspections for not keeping food cold enough. At Dana Farber, inspectors found boiled eggs at 54 degrees, tuna at 53 degrees and chicken at 51 degrees. Carney Hospital also had food items above 50 degrees. According to Boston University nutritionist Joan Salge-Blake, anything higher than 41 degrees is asking for trouble.

Some Chiefs fans indifferent about food violations at Arrowhead Stadium

As the Kansas City Chiefs beat up the Seattle Seahawks in brutal KC weather, most fans weren’t concerned about critical food violations at Arrowhead Stadium.

arrowhead.tailgateArrowhead is known for tailgating and a lot of fans said they were relieved that they never eat inside the stadium.

“I just come for the food, games, beer,” Joe Chames, a Chiefs fan, said.

“We did clam bake.  This year we’re having salmon because they’re coming from Seattle. Tennessee we did pulled pork,” Donna Rucker, a Chiefs fan, said.

An Aramark food safety inspectors’ scathing report of molded food, roaches and mice feces at Arrowhead Stadium last week deterred some fans from digging in at the concession stand.

“The fact that they serve food that’s been sitting a whole week. I’m just glad that we tailgate instead of eating inside,” Rucker said.

Other fans had no problem enjoying Aramark’s culinary offerings before and during the game.

“Doesn’t bother me, so when I get hungry, I’m not going to stop eating … you can’t bring anything in, so,” Chames said.

Food safety is our top priority, but ‘you will sell the dough’ Bugs, mold on menu at Kansas stadiums

The food safety manager at Kansas City’s Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums, home to the Royals and the Chiefs, told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that poor food handling and dirty conditions have routinely been putting fans’ health at risk — including during the World Series. In addition, a city health department inspection completed Nov. 3 found dozens of critical health code violations at the facilities, according to documents obtained by “Outside the Lines.”

image008Among the concerns found at the stadiums by the manager: cockroaches in vending areas, mouse feces on the same tray as pizza dough, sinks where employees were supposed to wash their hands being blocked by boxes or trash, employees eating in food prep areas and trays of food headed for customers that measured at unsafe temperatures. The health department found several critical violations, including mold growth in ice machines, dirty pans and trays and excessive numbers of fruit flies.
“When we lose control over hygienic practices and we also combine that with poor temperature control — that could be a catastrophe,” said Jon Costa, the district food safety manager for Aramark, which runs the concessions at both venues and has food and beverage contracts with 30 professional sports teams. “That is a recipe for foodborne illness. … It’s very likely temperatures are abused every game. Every game.”

Costa sent information about the food safety concerns to local media and ESPN last week, a step he said he took after months of trying to get Aramark senior management to address his concerns and reprimand employees who broke food handling and prep rules. He said he had no authority to reprimand employees, and he was powerless on site because the employees he would have been instructing did not report to him.After learning that Costa sent those details to the media, Aramark placed him on paid administrative leave last week for violating its media policy, Costa said.

image009Marc Bruno, chief operating officer of Aramark Sports and Entertainment, said last week that Costa’s photographs and descriptions were “just allegations at this point,” and the company has addressed problems that Costa has raised throughout his 2 years with the company.

“It’s completely contrary to everything that we have done in there,” Bruno said. “Food safety is the top priority, No. 1 at Aramark and No. 1 in Kansas City and all our operations.” He said both venues are routinely inspected by the City of Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department, which has awarded a number of concession stand food safety excellence awards at the stadiums in the past.

Tod MacKenzie, senior vice president of communications and public affairs for Aramark, also wrote a detailed response to “Outside the Lines.”

“The unsubstantiated claims raised by a disgruntled employee are very troubling, as is his unknown motivation,” MacKenzie said. “Especially disturbing is the fact that this individual is personally responsible and entrusted with managing food safety at the locations in question. …

“The random collection of isolated and questionable photographs that the employee distributed represents selective snapshot ‘moments-in-time’ that without proper context can support any number of conclusions.”

The Royals issued a statement, saying: “We take great pride in promoting an atmosphere at Kauffman Stadium that Royals fans of all ages can enjoy. The excitement and energy running through the stadium was on full display during the World Series and our partners, including Aramark, play an important role in creating those memories. Food and beverage is integral to the fan experience and Aramark has been a valued partner in delivering those services to fans. We all take food service, safety and quality very seriously.”

In July 2010, “Outside the Lines” conducted a comprehensive review of food safety at all 107 venues for professional football, hockey, baseball and basketball in North America. In that report, 62 percent of Kauffman’s vendors had critical violations, and at Arrowhead, it was 56 percent. Aramark began its contracts with Kauffman in 2007 and started one with Arrowhead, for general concessions only, in 2010. Costa said his position was created as a result of the “Outside the Lines” report.

Costa said managers have not been promoting food safety, especially among the food prep workers who actually handle the ingredients, as evidenced by a scene he described from the final game of the World Series on Oct. 29. The concession stands were running low on pizza dough, and a prep worker told him that she was left with a tray of dough that had expired Oct. 25.
“She says to me that she called our supplier and our supplier told her, ‘Do not serve dough that is expired,’” Costa said. “However, our manager stepped in and said, ‘You will sell the dough. You will sell the dough.’”

image007“Outside the Lines” heard two other accounts of the dough incident that backed up Costa’s description and indicated that pizzas made with expired dough were sold to customers.

Even if the dough didn’t pose a health hazard or sicken anyone, Costa said it set a bad precedent for workers.

“I think it says that, ‘Hey, we can sell any substandard food that we want,’” he said.

Meat in the Texas heat: I-Team uncovers unsafe meat deliveries

A months-long I-Team investigation found more than 30 instances of restaurant employees transporting meat without refrigeration from a San Antonio food distributor.

A majority of the footage was captured in August and September, as restaurant employees left Restaurant Depot in the 3300 block of Fredericksburg Rd.

Two large banners hang outside of Restaurant Depot, imploring customers to ‘Keep it Kool’.

Some of the footage appears to show delivery practices which violate city and state health codes.

The Texas Food Establishment Rules require transported meat to remain at 41 degrees or less in order to keep it out of the so-called ‘food danger zone’, a

temperature range from 41 degrees to 140 degrees that allows harmful bacteria to grow most rapidly.

Foodborne organisms, which can cause food poisoning, grow at the fastest rate between 70 degrees and 117 degrees.

“Any boxed meat or anything like that, you would want to keep in some kind of cooler, with some kind of cooling media, dry ice, wet ice or frozen ice packs,” said Stephen Barscewski, Sanitarian Services Manager for San Antonio Metropolitan Health.

Barscewski analyzed some of the footage captured by the I-Team, pointing out instances that would likely result in health inspectors issuing the restaurants citations.

August 28, the I-Team captured footage of the owner of Daddy’s Burgers and More loading raw chicken into the trunk of a car, with the help of a Restaurant Depot employee. We followed the car as it made its way to the restaurant’s Stone Oak location. From start to finish, the trip took 30 minutes. It was 98 degrees outside.

“You have risk there,” said Barscewski as he watched footage of the incident. He added that salad greens loaded with the chicken created additional concerns about cross-contamination.

“There’s a possibility of blood from the meat or blood from the chicken getting on your onions, celery, bag salad.”

Daddy’s owner Ruben Perales refused our requests for an on-camera interview for this story. Over the phone he admitted to the I-Team he failed to refrigerate the chicken when leaving Restaurant Depot. It is important to note, city health records show Daddy’s Burgers and More had perfect scores during its last three inspections, and no complaints of customers getting sick. Perales said he has now purchased thermal packaging to use when transporting chicken to his restaurant.

Restaurant inspections really are only a snapshot in time.

Inspector photos at Texas meat market expose roaches in sink, rodent droppings on rags

iPhones are wonderful, except when they get dropped in toilets. A camera in your pocket that can take pics, record video, and then immediately send it off. This one time, I was threatened by one of the crims living next door, and Amy had her iPhone ready to record whatever may have happened (nothing did other than posturing, or as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott would say, referring to Putin, a full-on shirt-front).

rodent.poop.ragsAn inspector scouring Texas Meats of Brownsville found evidence of roaches and rodents, according to a health report.

The two violations accounted for six demerits at the location on 1395 Military Highway last month.

Inspector photos obtained by the Food Patrol documented the violations.

Dead roaches were seen inside a sink.

Rodent poop was found on top of containers and on rags (exactly as shown, right).

The business was ordered to fumigate within 24 hours.

The Food Patrol reached out to management for a comment but Action 4 News has not yet heard back.

Duh: Sick days for restaurant workers?

WWBT NBC 12 reports that the U.S.Centers for Disease Control recently reported that one in five restaurant workers admitted to working while they had symptoms for the highly contagious Norovirus.

That’s one of the reasons labor groups have been protesting, demanding paid sick days for restaurant workers. Most restaurants do not offer paid sick leave to employees.

The CDC also reports that 70 percent of Norovirus cases are caused by food handlers.

The Virginia Department of Health Director of Food & General Environmental Services, Julie Henderson, explained how the Norovirus can be spread by food handlers.  “The virus gets on their hand and can be transferred to the food.”

 VDH prohibits sick restaurant employees from working with food. “Restaurant workers are required to report if they have nausea, diarrhea, any symptoms associated with Norovirus, to report it to the person in charge,” Henderson said.

Henderson believes a high level of compliance has helped Virginia attain a lower rate of Norovirus spread by food handlers.

“I know our latest statistics from 2012 show we had out of 250 outbreaks. Seventeen of them were associated with Norovirus and direct food contact from food handlers, said Henderson.

But Norovirus is one of several illnesses that can be spread.  There are colds, the flu, Salmonella, E. Coli, Shigella, and Hepatitis A, to name a few. 
NBC12 – Richmond, VA News