05/14/18 — Board of Health: Food services grade criteria to change

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Board of Health: Food services grade criteria to change

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 14, 2018 9:16 AM

Health inspectors handed down four "B" grades to several food establishments for the first quarter, with pending changes to food handling requirements expected to result in more violations, officials say.

Kevin Whitley, environmental health director, reported the outcome off the first quarter inspections at the recent Board of Health meeting. Two of them raised their scores, while one stayed the same and the other opted not to request a regrade.

Sonic Drive-in received an 86.5 on its initial inspection in March, with a subsequent visit raising it to 95.5.

Infractions on the first visit included finding beverages on top of the freezer and not in designated areas, equipment visibly dirty and some of the hot and cold foods not in the right temperature range. There was also trash around dumpsters and broken floor tiles, Whitley said.

Murray's BBQ and Seafood received an 87 during its February inspection, bringing that up to 90.5 one month later.

Among things noted by the inspector, there was not a certified food manager on site at the time of the visit, personal items were in the food prep area, raw eggs stored over ready-to-eat foods and the temperature of the chicken nuggets was 120 degrees instead of the required 135 degrees, Whitley said.

D&H Mart on South Center Street received an 88 the first time around in January, staying the same after the March follow-up.

"The person in charge did not have food safety (training), that's an automatic two-point deduction," Whitley said, adding that the report indicated employees did not use proper food washing procedures.

There was also an issue with storage of items, to avoid cross contamination, he said, live roaches in the kitchen and utensils were not stored properly.

Garden Thai Cuisine, also on Center Street, received a score of 87.5 in January and has not requested a regrade.

Health Director Davin Madden said that next year, the 45-degree cold holding temperature will be lowered to a required 41 degrees.

"This is going to be interesting because a lot of the cooling units in restaurants now, some of them have been around for quite awhile and they struggle to maintain that 45-degree temperature, so 41 degrees at a holding temp could be a challenge," he said.

Madden said there could be a transitional period, providing leeway for businesses to adjust to the new requirements and not have to rush out and purchase new coolers.

"But I think that is going to be a challenge as these inspectors go out there and work with people so used to having those coolers maintain that 45 and now they're going to be at 41 degrees," he said.

"We're going to probably see some increases in temperature violations."

Board member Tommy Gibson asked what prompted the four-degree temperature drop requirement.

Madden said it was the potential for listeria, with the lowered temperature reducing the risk of the bacteria to thrive in food.

"What they were finding was that with some listeria above that 41-degree threshold was creating enough concentration of that bacteria was harmful," he said.