Five area restaurants scored a "B" during the last inspection period before raising their grades, environmental health director Kevin Whitley told the Wayne County Board of Health on Wednesday.
A new board member was also sworn in, and Health Director Davin Madden said contracts are being revamped for openings for a new dentist and medical director.
Whitley said during the last quarter of 2016, five food establishments received a "B" grade but during a subsequent visit of a health inspector, the scores came up to an "A."
In all cases, the visits are unannounced. Businesses are able to receive a regrade inspection to bring up the score.
Fast Break on Wilson Street initially scored an 88.5, for having such infractions as raw meats being above cooked foods in the cooler, no certified manager on duty and not maintaining cold foods below 45 degrees. The score was brought up to 96.5 on the second visit.
Jade Express on North Berkeley received an 85 on the first inspection. It was cited for having no certified food protection manager, some foods weren't covered in the cooler, cold foods were not at 45 degrees and some hot foods weren't being held above 135 degrees, Whitley said. Regrade brought the marks up to a 90.
Jin Jin Chinese Restaurant on U.S. 117 received an 87.5. Points were taken off for keeping employee drinks on work surface, employees weren't washing hands in the designated handwashing sink, uncovered foods were in the cooler and raw products were above cooked products. The business received a 93 on the regrade.
Taqueria El Corral, on N.C.111, received an 85 on the first inspection. It was marked down for employee beverages stored on work surfaces, no paper towels at the handwashing sink, uncovered foods in the cooler and some issues with foods, both hot and cold, not being at the proper temperature. The score was brought up to 95.5 on the subsequent visit.
Torero's Mexican Restaurant on North John Street was given an 88 for the first inspection. According to the report, employees were using other sinks in the kitchen instead of the handwashing sinks, there were some issues with date markings, improper methods of thawing foods and some flies in the kitchen. Their regrade score was 95.
The board's newest member, Pam Anderson, was sworn in at the start of the February meeting.
The registered nurse, who leads the school nurse program for Wayne County Public Schools, fills the opening for a nurse representative on the board.
Madden updated the board of positions and operations at the Health Department -- some due to retirements, others to departures.
"Some key positions that we have that were vacant were health educators," he said. "We lost both of our health educators in the span of two weeks. So that's always a kind of punch in the gut to have that occur.
"However, we have been working hard to do interviews."
Two offers have been made, he said, and both candidates have accepted and are expected to start within the next few weeks.
"Our medical director, Dr. Ashton Griffin, has announced his official retirement effective May 1," Madden said. "So now I'm in a position to start recruiting for a medical director."
Dr. Griffin took over the role in 2008. Prior to that, he had spent 45 years in solo private practice.
Madden said his staff is working to "tweak the contract" in anticipation of soliciting applicants for the position.
"We're going to try to see if we can maybe secure somebody with obstetrical experience as medical director since it is our biggest program, focus on that," he said. "But I can't really say that with assurance until we get candidates."
The dentist position was also recently vacated and a contract for a replacement has been vetted by the county attorney, the health director said.
"We should have that out very shortly," he said, explaining that they will advertise and recruit for a new dentist. "We are facing a little bit of a shortage right now in North Carolina with dentists.
"Even though I try to stay optimistic, I'm more like an engineer and think that the glass is really at half capacity."
The role of dentist had been split between the on-site dental clinic as well as the mobile program, launched to travel to schools around the county.
The mobile clinic, a 50-foot tractor trailer acquired by the department in 2015, has served in excess of 700 students who would have otherwise not had access to dental services.
Madden told the board that in the interim, plans are to schedule the unit for maintenance.