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.

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.

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

Health minister: Lebanon’s food ‘dipped in diseases and microbes’

The list read like a who’s who of Lebanese eateries – Hawa Chicken, Spinneys, Roadster Diner and dozens of others – but this was no recognition of Lebanon’s famed cuisine: Tuesday afternoon the health minister named and shamed establishments across Lebanon serving unsafe food.

hawa.chicken“The Lebanese citizen’s food is not only dipped with sweat, but also in diseases and microbes,” Abu Faour said during a news conference at his ministry. “The Lebanese does not know what he eats, and it will be a disaster if he knows.”

The minister revealed that numerous supermarkets, bakeries, butchers and restaurants had been violating food safety standards, according to the results of the inspection campaign done by the ministry over the last 20 days.

Among the famous supermarkets that were named by Abu Faour were Fahed Supermaket in Jounieh, Hawa Chicken, Spinneys in Jbeil, Abou Khalil in Damour, Metro in Baaba, MP in Aley and TSC Mega in the Metn area.

Other notable places mentioned were Roadster Diner for chicken breasts, Bedo for sausages, Makaneq for soujok, and Al-Hallab sweets shop in Tripoli for Ashta.

“The purpose is not to distort the image of any companies,” Abu Faour repeated several times during the conference. “But we have a responsibility toward the citizens.”

‘Breaches completely avoidable’ 15 food businesses closed in Ireland last month

Eight restaurants across the country were hit by closure orders by Ireland’s food safety watchdog last month.

fsaiThe Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) issued the orders to nine food businesses in Dublin and one each in Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Tipperary, Wexford and Roscommon.

Commenting on the high level of orders served in October, Professor Alan Reilly of the FSAI, warns that the legal onus is on food businesses to act responsibly and ensure that the food they serve and sell is safe to eat.

“While most food businesses follow high standards and are compliant with food safety legislation, we continue to encounter cases where consumers’ health is jeopardised through a failure to comply with food safety and hygiene requirements. These breaches are completely avoidable when food businesses have proper food safety management systems in place.”

I still prefer name and shame: Name and Fame for Dubai restaurants

Customers will soon be able to view a food safety grade on the entrance of Dubai food outlets as part of an upcoming “Name and Fame” scheme, an official said on Sunday.

scarlet.letterThe scheme will reveal whether the outlet has passed, failed or obtained a conditional pass in official food safety inspections.

It will also assign what will probably be a letter grade indicating the level of compliance, with “A” being the highest and “E” the lowest.

The scheme was announced during the ninth Dubai International Food Safety Conference, which lasts until Tuesday.

“We want to let consumers know who’s doing well. It’ll invite people to make food safety their priority,” Sultan Al Tahir, head of inspections at Dubai Municipality’s food control department, said.

“The grade will be posted outside the place. We’ll implement this in the future.”

Al Tahir said more than 200 out of 13,000 food establishments in Dubai are of A-grade standing. Those falling in the E category are 430.

It is understood the grades will be revised if necessary after scheduled and spot food safety inspection results.

Also planned for consumers is a smart barcode system which will let smartphone users scan the product information on the packaging of all food products in the UAE, said Khalid Mohammad Sharif, the municipality department’s executive director.

qr.code.rest.inspection.gradeUsing an app in their smart device, customers will be able to scan a code that will reveal a catalogue of information, such as nutrition facts, expiry date, ingredients, and country of origin.

The code will also reveal if the product has ever been flagged by authorities.

“Consumers will know if it has had any previous history. It means more control and transparency, which is good for everybody. All of that will be on your smartphone,” Sharif added.

The system will also reveal if the product is registered with federal authorities, which will become mandatory some time in 2015, he said.

The Dubai Municipality plans to shut down food outlets that do not raise their food safety standards to the highest level before the emirate hosts the World Expo in 2020, a senior official revealed on Sunday.

“We want all food outlets in Dubai to be in ‘A’ and ‘B’ categories. We don’t want any restaurant or hotel below those grades by 2020,” Khalid Mohammed Sherif Al Awadhi said.

Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the 9th Dubai International Food Safety Conference (DIFSC) on Sunday, Al Awadhi said it is high time that eateries raised their standards to make Dubai the best place to dine in.