Iowa restaurants cited for outdated food and unsanitary conditions

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals is responsible for inspecting food establishments such as grocery stores, restaurants and convenience stores, as well as food processing plants, hotels and motels. (Photo by Clark Kauffman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The Iowa Department of Inspections has reported the following alleged violations that stem from recent restaurant inspections in the Des Moines area. The department reminds the public that their reports are a “snapshot” in time and violations are often corrected on the spot before the inspector leaves the establishment.

In addition to restaurants, this list also includes recent food-service violations found at schools and care facilities.

This is only a summary of the inspectors’ recent findings. For a more complete list of all inspections, along with additional details on each inspection, visit the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals’ web site.

Polk and Dallas counties:

Now or Later Restaurant & Lounge, 3750 E. University Ave., Des Moines — This inspection resulted from a complaint of food-related illness. The complaint was not verified. During the inspection, employees were observed drinking from an open pitcher of water in the kitchen; workers were collecting Parmesan cheese from dining-room shakers and reusing it as an ingredient in the kitchen; the dishwasher wasn’t reaching the minimum temperature of 165 degrees; the ice machine used for customers’ drinks was visibly soiled with an accumulation of unidentified black substance; all the parts of a kitchen slicer, including the blade, were visibly soiled; an employee handled cooked meat patties with his or her bare hands; raw beef was stored above cooked pasta noodles inside the kitchen refrigerator; multiple items in the walk-in cooler and salad-preparation station were undated, including cheese, cut tomatoes, cottage cheese, opened milk, deli meat, greens and ribs; a kitchen microwave was visibly soiled with accumulated food debris; and canned food products were dented at the seams. (Feb. 13, 2020)

Trostel’s Dish, 12851 University Ave., Clive — Homemade balsamic dressing, homemade bleu cheese dressing, homemade cilantro lime mayonnaise, and shredded chicken were held for more than seven days; an employee washed his or her hands in a sanitizing bucket used for rags; and sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella in a cooler did not have any date markings. (Feb. 14, 2020)

Centro, 1003 Locust St., Des Moines — This inspection resulted from a complaint of food-related illness.  The complaint was not verified. The walk-in cooler should have been holding foods at 41 degrees, but the thermometer on the cooler showed an internal temperature of 49 degrees, and most of the prepared foods inside tested at 44 to 45 degrees. These items included cooked pastas, cooked sauces, and homemade salad dressings. This was a repeat violation. Also, multiple ready-to-eat deli meats in multiple walk-in coolers had no date markings on them. Also, employees did not wash their hands prior to donning gloves for food service. Inspectors found garlic aioli and Thousand Island dressing that were past their seven-day shelf life. Also, a mechanical slicer, cutting surfaces, and other equipment contained visible food debris after being cleaned. During the four-hour inspection, the inspector did not see any of the workers wash their hands. (Jan. 9, 2020)

The Gardens At Luther Park, 2910 E. 16th St., Des Moines — Milk and cream in dining room refrigerators were stored at above 46 degrees; lunch meat was stored at 45 degrees and cheese at 49 degrees; soup in the dining room area was held at 126 degrees; raw hamburger was stored above ready-to-eat whole ham; and beets, salad and pie filling were not dated. (Feb. 12, 2020)

Usuluteco Restaurante Salvadoreño, 1511 S. Union St., Des Moines — Food items in the cooler were not labeled or dated; rice and cheese, rice and beans, and corn mixture were being held at 56 degrees to 67 degrees; and cooked fried rice was being held at room temperature. (Feb. 11, 2020)

Burger King, 4600 Fleur Dr., Des Moines — Room-temperature tomatoes on the food-production line were to be discarded at 11 a.m. However, at 11 a.m., the inspector observed a staffer putting new labels on the tomatoes rather than discarding them. The worker told the inspector this practice was common. (Feb. 7, 2020)

Northern Lights Pizza, 104 3rd St. SE, Altoona — Individual portions of nacho cheese and Alfredo sauce were being held at 82 degrees; cooked meat for grinders and tacos, as well as boneless wings and cooked chicken were all being held for more than seven days. (Jan. 24, 2020)

Gameday, 3800 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines — Cooked prime rib and salad dressing were being held for more than seven days. (Jan. 23, 2020)

Roosevelt High School, 4419 Center St., Des Moines — Shredded cheese and salad dressing were being held for more than seven days. (Jan. 21, 2020)

Westridge Elementary School, 5500 E.P. True Parkway, West Des Moines — Salad with meat and tomatoes were being held at 54 degrees. (Jan. 16, 2020)

Adventureland Inn / Spectator’s, 3200 Adventureland Dr., Altoona — A whole orange by the juice machine had visible mold on it; and cooked sausage for pizza had been held for more than seven days. (Jan. 9, 2020)

Truman’s KC Pizza Tavern, 400 SE 6th St., Des Moines — Cooked sausage and cooked chicken wings were not marked with a date; pizza sauce was being held at 88 to 95 degrees near a sink; and homemade chili and salsa were both being held for more than seven days. (Jan. 6, 2020)

Burger Shop, 700 Locust St., Des Moines — Pork patties in a refrigerator were being held for more than seven days; a refrigerator was holding food at 42 to 48 degrees; deli meats, burgers, cottage cheese, homemade ranch dressing were not dated. (Jan. 3, 2020)

Cattell Elementary School, 3101 E. 12th St., Des Moines — American cheese opened two weeks previously was still on hand; a can opener was visibly soiled with dried food; and cheese products in the cooler were not marked with a date. (Feb. 12, 2020)

Central Standard, 1222 University Ave., Waukee — Multiple pans were stored directly on the lettuce at the salad-building station; bacon jam, pesto and house-made sauces that needed refrigeration after opening were all held at room temperature; and corn salsa and peanut sauce were being held for longer than seven days in a cooler. (Feb. 7, 2020)

Fairfield Inn & Suites, 7225 Vista Dr., West Des Moines — Turkey sausage on the buffet service line was held at 110 degrees; cantaloupe on the buffet line was held at 53 degrees; and boiled eggs were held at 53 degrees. (Jan. 30, 2020)

Phoenix Asian Restaurant, 15700 Hickman Road, Clive — Homemade appetizers and marinated meats in the cooler were not dated or labeled; pesticides were stored on shelves alongside knives; the person in charge was not enforcing hand-washing rules or ensuring the sanitation of food-preparation equipment; the dishwasher was not reaching the recommended levels of sanitization; there was no soap at the kitchen hand-washing sink; cloth towels were being used as covers for various foods in storage, including ready-to-eat items, creating a risk of cross-contamination; shrimp was being held on a shelf at 47 degrees; and “cleaned” pans were stored with visible food debris still on them. (Jan. 3, 2020)

Elsewhere in Iowa:

Top China Buffet, 1702 W. Broadway, Council Bluffs — This inspection resulted from a complaint of food-related illness.  The complaint was not verified. During the visit, inspectors did not observe any employees washing their hands; employees touched cooked chicken with their bare hands; a pan of raw fish was stored inside a pan holding cooked noodles; raw crawdads were observed in a pan of raw beef; pans of food were stored on top of other pans of uncovered food; numerous foods, including macaroni and cheese, crab rangoon mix, cooked broccoli and cheese, cooked beef and breaded chicken, were all undated; rodent bait was stored above open food containers of rice; sweet-and-sour chicken was stored at 102 degrees; broccoli beef was stored at 95 degrees; and lettuce in the buffet line was 53 and 57 degrees. Due to numerous, repeat risk-factor violations, a regulatory warning letter was recommended by the inspector. (Jan. 6, 2020)

Lofty’s Lounge, 3480 Lafayette St., Evansdale — Cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes were left on the counter when not being used, with no effort made to maintain the necessary cold-holding temperatures; there were no food-safety certified employees in the establishment; inspectors found multiple expired food items; sausage and meat sticks from an undetermined source were on hand; gravy and shredded beef were stored at 125 degrees; the hand sink was tucked under a dish-washing sink, was low to the floor and hard to access, was loaded with spray bottles and cleaning equipment and the water to it was shut off. (Feb. 11, 2020)

Fareway Store, 1505 B Ave., Nevada — No verifiable, certified food-protection manager employed; rotisserie chicken made at 11 a.m. was only 119 degrees while in a heated display case three and a half hours later. Raid bug spray was stored directly alongside unwrapped, single-use loaf pans; cans of cream of chicken were severely dented; a bucket of stuffing was being held for more than seven days; raw oysters in meat department display case did not have shell-stock identification tags on the product; and multiple cheeses and deli meats had no date markings on them. (Feb. 3, 2020.)

Yen Ching, 2317 Mount Vernon Road, Cedar Rapids — Raw pork was overflowing in a cooler and stored at 47 degrees; no sanitizing solution was being used in the dish-washing sink; there was no sanitizing solution used anywhere in the facility at any time during the inspection; a cashier came into the kitchen to help the cook without washing his or her hands; chicken was stored at 130 degrees; and raw meat and other foods were not dated. (Jan. 13, 2020)

Quaker State & Lube, 3320 MidAmerica Dr., Council Bluffs — Raw steak stored next to raw chicken in cold holding unit; food debris found in the hand-washing sink near a food-preparation area; a worker’s beverage was stored in a container of bleu cheese crumbles; uncovered, cooked bacon was being stored next to a trash can; the dishwasher did not meet the manufacturer’s temperature specifications; there was no verifiable, certified food-protection manager in a supervisory position; and a brush used to clean the broiler was stored directly on the floor. (Jan. 9, 2020)

Fiesta Foods, 1002 11th St., Onawa — Green bean salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw and potato salad were all being stored above the minimum 41 degrees; chicken salad and lettuce salads in the deli department and display case had expired two days previously; deli sandwiches in a retail case had expired five days previously; raw pork was stored next to deli ham inside a walk-in cooler; and there were no date markings on opened deli meats in the deli department. (Jan. 23, 2020)

Sundown Ski Area, 16991 Asbury Road, Dubuque — Cut celery appeared to be slimy and rotten; a container of chili in the walk-in cooler appeared to have some sort of growth on top of it; an employee used his bare hands to eat French fries from a holding container; and a large pot of chili in the walk-in cooler that was cooling from the previous day was stored at 53 degrees. (Jan. 25, 2020)

Clark Kauffman
Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.