11/14/17 — Inspection scores at county restaurants net five B's and one C

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Inspection scores at county restaurants net five B's and one C

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 14, 2017 5:50 AM

Recent inspections at area restaurants resulted in 5 B's and one C grade, with two of the former not requesting a regrade and one of them seeing scores go down on the subsequent visit by health inspectors.

Kevin Whitley, environmental health director, reported on the findings of the initial inspection at each at the recent Board of Health meeting.

Jade Express on Berkeley Boulevard again made the list, this time earning the "C" grade with a 75.5, before reinspection brought it up to 96, which is an A.

The establishment had been discussed at an earlier board meeting, then earning an 85 before bringing it up to a 90.

Whitley said the infractions this go-round included not having a certified food manager on site -- "that's automatically two points," he said -- and issues with hot and cold foods being kept within the recommended temperature range.

There were no thermometers in one of the coolers, he added, along with food found stored on the floor, personal items on work surfaces and workers not wearing hair restraints.

From those earning B grades, two did not request a reinspection -- Fast Trip Mart on William Street and Dudley Food Mart.

Fast Trip received an 87.5. Points were deducted for not having a certified food manager on duty, lacking paper towels at the handwashing sink, a thermometer was not calibrated, employees were not wearing hair restraints and there were issues with the chemical configuration of the sanitizer.

Dudley Food Mart, which serves hot dogs, chicken tenders and other items, received a score of 86. The business did not have a certified food manager on duty, personal items on the counter, employees did not wash hands when preparing food -- they were seen working the register and handling food, Whitley said -- and chemicals were not stored properly.

Jasmine Thai Bistro on Berkeley Boulevard was given an 88 on the first visit and then an 86.5 on the regrade. The first score was derived from issues with not properly separating raw and ready-to-eat foods in a cooler, moldy items seen, personal items on work surface, seeing "one live roach" and improper temperature range on items being delivered.

Huddle House on U.S. 117 received an 87 on the first visit and raised it to 94 on the second inspection. The former score was based on such things as issues with stickers on pans -- which could potentially retain bacteria or cross-contaminate, the health director said -- worn and damaged cutting boards and personal items on the counter.

"Employees weren't washing their hands properly," Whitley added. "They would use their clean hands to turn off the dirty faucet."

The last one on the latest list was Off Center Pizzeria on Walnut Street, which received an 85, then a 91 on the regrade.

The business initially did not have hand towels at the handwashing sink, food temperatures that fell below or above the cold and hot recommendations, respectively, and some racks in the refrigerator or freezer that needed to be cleaned, Whitley said.

Board member Thurston Greenwood questioned the poor report and whether there were any other consequences.

"You can maintain at least a 70 or above but like we said at (a previous meeting), we put the grade card out -- if people choose to go in there and buy food, we can't stop them. They're adults," Whitley said. "But we can at least notify them that this is the situation."

The Health Department does have some authority but is essentially more "supportive and not punitive," said Davin Madden, health director.

"There are certain items, if they're critical, we can shut them down until they correct it," Whitley said. "Most of these we try to get them to correct while we're there, like food temperatures, they will either have to throw this away or if a cooler's down, we'll have them move things around.

"There's certain critical items that yes, we can close them, but for a lot of these items, if you get a low B and then put the B on the wall and you still choose to go to that restaurant, that's on you."

Greenwood said, "So mostly we're running an advisory service? It sounds pretty bad to get down to a 70 (score) from where I'm sitting."

Madden agreed, particularly in the case of lower grades.

He said there had previously been a color-coded grading system, creating more of a visual so when patrons entered a restaurant they could readily see the grade card.

"How many of you walk into a restaurant and look at the grade card?" he asked the board.

Board chairman Bob Cagle said he does, every single time.

Board member Steve Vann asked what happens if a business removed the card or covered it up so the public could not see it.

"That's actually a misdemeanor," Madden said. "It's supposed to be in a conspicuous spot."

Cagle said the score is something everyone should pay attention to, especially when a business does not take advantage of the opportunity to improve its grade.

They are entitled to have a reinspection, Whitley explained, and his staff is required by law to make another unannounced visit within 15 days.