In recent weeks, state and county food inspectors have cited Iowa restaurants and grocery stores for hundreds of food-safety violations, including cockroaches in sushi-preparation areas, long-outdated food, and kitchen equipment caked with black grime and pink slime.
The findings are reported by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, which handles food-establishment inspections at the state level. Listed below are some of the more serious findings that stem from restaurant inspections conducted throughout Iowa over the past five weeks.
The state inspections 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. For a more complete list of all inspections, along with additional details on each of the inspections listed below, visit the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals’ website.
Hy-Vee Foods, 2540 Euclid Ave., Des Moines — A March 19 inspection by the state resulted in 12 citations for alleged violations. Inspectors stated that various cheeses, deli meats, and fried chicken were observed holding at 50 to 60 degrees and then discarded; an employee’s personal beverage was stored on the sushi-preparation table; two large cans of spaghetti sauce were severely dented; the packaging of a bag of Doritos appeared to have been sliced through and retaped shut before placed back on store shelves; gravy was holding at just over 109 degrees; a container of queso that was being used in the food-preparation area had been made on March 11, eight days prior to the inspection; a container of salsa being used in the food-preparation area had been made March 12, seven days prior to the inspection; the food dicer in the rear of the kitchen was visibly soiled with debris; the fried chicken in a reach-in freezer was not marked with a preparation date; what appeared to be “a sour cream mixture” in a food-preparation area was not date marked; the complete batch-labeling information was not on the sushi rice-preparation container as mandated by the store’s own Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points plan; mechanically tenderized pork and beef were stored above whole-muscle pork and beef; cooked noodles in large plastic containers from the previous day were stored at 51 degrees and 45 degrees and had to be discarded; refrigeration units under one of the stoves did not appear to be functioning; and the interior of a microwave oven was visibly soiled with accumulated debris. Inspectors also made note of numerous other issues, including: Plastic containers were wet-stacked after cleaning and unable to air-dry; a reach-in cooler was leaking; various carts were visibly soiled with accumulated debris; and in the Asian food section of the store, water was pooling and there was an accumulation of “black debris” on the floor adjacent to the wall. (A September 2020 inspection also resulted in citations for 12 violations, including several issues related to the sushi preparation; undated crab salad; BLT and mustard salads dated eight days and 15 days prior to the inspection; visible soiling and black debris on the nozzle of a soda gun used in the bar area; a handwashing sink that could not produce hot water; and multiple hand-washing sinks throughout the store being used to dump food and drinks.)
Red Ginger, 2230 Edgewood Road, Cedar Rapids — A March 16 inspection by the county resulted in 12 citations for alleged violations. Inspectors said the person in charge did not demonstrate knowledge of safe food-handling practices as evidenced by the storage of raw fish directly on top of fruits and vegetables, all within the same bowl; the lack of sanitizer buckets for wiping cloths in the sushi preparation area; and the bowls of food that were stored directly on top of white rice inside a food warmer. Inspectors also noted that house-made dressing and bean curd were sitting out on a counter and were not temperature controlled; neither of the two handwashing sinks in the sushi area had soap available; boxes of seaweed were stored on the floor within the kitchen, and boxes of frozen meat were stored on the freezer floor; none of the prepared food items in the walk-in cooler were marked with dates; and vacuum-packaged fish was stored thawed without the seal on the package opened or removed. Inspectors also noted that a dead cockroach was found next to the sushi cooler, and cockroach trails were seen around the shelving in the sushi-preparation area; wiping cloths in the sushi area were stored on the cutting board and not placed in a sanitizing bucket; the sushi rice-mixing bowl was made of wood, making it harder to sanitize; shelving and carts were made of untreated wood or pressed board that were not sealed; there were no chlorine test strips on site for measuring sanitizing concentrations; food debris was built up under coolers and shelves; and a child’s car seat was stored in the kitchen. In July 2020, inspectors visited the establishment in response to a complaint of a cockroach infestation. The inspector reported: “Conversations with the owner indicated that after the COVID shut-down and reopening that he did have a cockroach problem.”
Drake University, Hubbell Dining Hall, Des Moines — A March 23 state inspection resulted in five citations for alleged violations, including storage of undated “buffalo sauce” that was prepared onsite; visibly soiled can openers and ice chutes on the soda-dispensing machine; raw meat for gyros stored above ready-to-eat food; the display case for salads and sandwiches holding food at just under 50 degrees; the reach-in cooler for the salad bar holding food at 46 degrees; and food in the salad-bar line being held above 41 degrees, including cottage cheese that measured 47 degrees, and ham that tested at 48 degrees.
Flavors of India, 2660 E. 53rd St., Davenport — A March 23 inspection by county health officials resulted in four citations for alleged violations, including the failure to use any date markings on food in the kitchen; all of the reach-in coolers holding food at 45 to 50 degrees; and cooked rice being “stored all day at room temperature.” Inspectors also observed a buildup of food debris under equipment and along walls; a “raw roast” being thawed at room temperature; and a lack of thermometers in several of the coolers.
Prairie Canary, 824 Main St. Grinnell — A March 23 inspection by the state resulted in nine citations for alleged violations. Inspectors said they observed staff handling cooked penne, buns, and ready-to-eat green onions with their bare hands. In the kitchen, inspectors found house-made ranch dressing, sliced deli turkey, house-made jam sauce, dijon-mayonnaise and tzatziki stored for use after the allowable seven-day limit. Also, mayonnaise-based aioli was stored at room temperature in the kitchen for lunch service; a wall-mounted slicer was soiled with food and debris; a can opener and holster were soiled with dried food; and multiple containers in the walk-in cooler held items “like mashed potatoes, marinara, alfredo, and other sauces (that) were not date marked with a production or discard date.” Also, the mechanical dishwasher had no measurable sanitizer concentrate. Inspectors also reported that two containers of “green and red liquid” at the bar were not labeled; shelving and the bases of cabinets in the kitchen had dried food and debris attached to them; the knife holder in the cook line has dried food and debris on it; and the facility’s license and most recent inspection report were not posted in public view as required.
The Treehouse Pub & Eatery, 2239 Kimberly Road, Davenport — A March 23 inspection by county health officials resulted in seven citations for alleged violations. Inspectors stated that food items throughout the establishment had no date markings, including “various foods in the walk-in cooler,” which was a repeat violation for The Treehouse. Also, the dishwashing machine was not dispensing any sanitizer and appeared to be in need of maintenance; creamy garlic sauce was found in a cooler and was dated March 13, which was 10 days prior to the inspection; and the interior of the pizza-station prep cooler, a reach-in freezer, the soda machine, the ice dispenser, and a cooler were all soiled and in need of cleaning. Also, the “clean” plates and platters were soiled and had to be rewashed and sanitized, which was a repeat violation. Inspectors also noted the flooring throughout the kitchen and food-prep areas was soiled and contaminated with dried food debris; the vents on the ice machine in the kitchen had a buildup of dust and debris; and several tiles in the kitchen were broken and in need of repair.
El Gallito, 200 W. 3rd St., Tama — A March 22 inspection by the state resulted in six citations for alleged violations. Inspectors reported that raw chicken was stored over ready-to-eat creme in a cooler; raw shell eggs were stored over ready-to-eat cheese; and raw chicken pieces were stored over raw pork and beef in the meat department display cooler. Also, meat and cheese slicers and grinders in the meat department were soiled with visible dried food and debris, although they had yet to be used that day. Inspectors reported that frozen chicken feet and pig feet were stored in a deep freeze and were in contact with ice inside the unit; raw, thawed, chicken pieces inside one cooler were stored in a cardboard box that did not protect them from contamination; bags of onions, soy, and vegetables were stored on the floor in the meat department’s overflow-storage area; and the meat department and deli area were “in need of a deep cleaning to remove built-up soil (and) food debris.”
Jeff’s Market, 408 6th Ave., Durant — A March 22 inspection by the state resulted in six citations for alleged violations. Inspectors reported that cooked chicken in the customer reach-in cold case had been held past the allowable seven days and had to be discarded; a knife and knife rack were visibly soiled with food particles; a wood cutting block had a large crack and holes in it, rendering it uncleanable; and portions of flooring were missing throughout the store, exposing wood and rendering the surface uncleanable. The inspector wrote that “improvement has been getting done to the ceiling issues found in previous inspection reports” — a reference to an August 2019 inspection that stemmed from a complaint alleging the store smelled like mold or mildew and that water buckets had been put out to collect water dripping from ceiling. At that time, the manager told the inspector he had replaced or fixed the roof of the facility and was in the process of “finishing up” the installation of additional ventilation in ceiling. “During inspection, it did smell like mildew,” the inspector wrote in 2019. “Observed no leaking water from the ceiling.”
Acapulco Bakery, 515 Southgate Ave., Iowa City — A March 19 inspection by the county resulted in seven citations for alleged violations. Inspectors stated cakes and other pastries requiring cold-holding were not marked with dates; bakery items were stored in a hand sink; degreaser was stored next to an open chocolate warmer; and eggs were stored on a counter at 70 degrees ambient air temperature. Inspectors also noted that a cooler used to store cakes by the cash register did not have a thermometer; uncovered cakes inside one cooler were stored underneath beverages; spoons and scoops were stored in such a way that could result in contamination of ice or utensils; and the facility’s license was expired and wasn’t posted for the public to see.
Brewhemia, 1202 3rd St., Cedar Rapids — A March 19 inspection by the county resulted in seven citations for alleged violations. Inspectors reported that shell eggs were stored above ready-to-eat foods in a cooler; quiche that was dated March 11 — eight days prior to the inspection — was found and discarded; the cook handled raw eggs and ready-to-eat food without changing gloves or washing his hands; beans and rice on a counter were holding at 118 to 119 degrees; house-made chili that was 111 degrees was being held in a warmer that was not designed for reheating; and gravy and queso with no date markings were found. Inspectors also noted there were no thermometers in two reach-in coolers, and boxes of cheese and eggs were stored on the floor of one cooler.
Grinnell Regional Medical Center, 210 4th Ave., Grinnell — A March 19 inspection by the state resulted in four citations for alleged violations. Inspectors stated a can opener and holster had visible buildup and food residue; the ice chute on an ice machine had “visible pink slime and growth” on it; and quinoa salad stored in a large metal bowl was not marked with either a production date or a discard date. Also, inspectors said multiple containers of open deli meats, as well as meatloaf, were not marked with any dates.
Los Girasoles, 101 West St., Grinnell — A March 19 inspection by the state resulted in nine citations for alleged violations. Inspectors stated an employee was observed handing raw chicken and then washing his hands while they were still gloved; a large white container of house-made salsa in a cooler was not marked with either a production or discard date; large tubs of rice and beans in the cooler were not date-marked; a handwashing sink was being used to store a bucket and tray; queso dip was cooling in large buckets in the back of the kitchen and measured 101 degrees and 111 degrees before being discarded; a large tube of meat in red sauce date-marked March 6 was still in the kitchen 13 days later, well after the seven-day limit; and the ice machine had “slime-like growth and buildup” in the interior of the machine where ice was stored. Inspectors also stated that multiple containers of house-made drink mixes in the front bar and were not labeled; large bags of onions were stored on the floor in the kitchen; and multiple containers of food such as marinating chicken were being stored on the floor of a cooler.
Olive Tree Café, 2513 53rd St., Bettendorf — A March 18 inspection by the county resulted in five citations for alleged violations. Inspectors stated raw marinated chicken was stored over Mediterranean tomato salad inside a reach-in cooler; containers of quinoa located in the cooler were date-marked 10 and 12 days prior to the date of inspection; diced cucumber located in the food-prep was date marked 16 days prior to the inspection; and a hummus mix was date-marked nine days prior to the inspection. All of the food that was held past the allowable seven days was discarded. The inspector also noted that the establishment’s license and most recent inspection report were not posted for the public to see.
Hy-Vee Foods, 1745 Madison Ave., Council Bluffs — A March 17 inspection by the state resulted in six citations for alleged violations. Inspectors stated egg rolls in the hot-food case were holding between 106 and 130 degrees, well below the allowable temperature, and were discarded. Containers of salsa in the cooler were not date-marked; the dishwasher in the bakery department did not reach 160 degrees for proper sanitizing; cans of vegetables in the kitchen area showed dents along the seams; and the handwashing sink in the meat department was instead being used for draining meats.
Hy-Vee Gas, 808 Center St., Marshalltown — A March 17 inspection by the state resulted in 10 citations for alleged violations. Inspectors said the establishment did not employ a certified food protection manager; an employee entered the kitchen area to prepare food without washing their hands; an employee’s personal sushi, a Coke and fork were located on a surface used to prepare customers’ food; slices of pepperoni pizza in the pizza warmer had a temperature of 127 degrees and 126 degrees, below the allowable temperature, and so the pizza was discarded and the warmer was taken out of service; prepared eggs and precooked sausage for breakfast sandwiches were date-marked March 10 and should have been discarded; and ice chutes on the soda-dispensing machine were “soiled with buildup and mold-like growth.” The inspector also noted that the establishment did not have a test kit to monitor chemical-sanitizing concentrations; the counter behind the hot dog roller was soiled with dried food and other debris; the license was posted in a back office out of public view; and the previous inspection report was not posted for the public to see.
Hy-Vee Foods, 111 8th St., Boone — A March 17 inspection by the state resulted in four citations for alleged violations involving numerous foods stored at unsafe temperatures. Inspectors said food that was holding in the hot-food display case was measured at well below the minimum 135 degrees, including chicken at 122 degrees. Food that was holding in the salad bar cooler measured above the maximum allowable temperature of 41 degrees, including cashew chicken at 47 degrees and bacon cheddar broccoli salad at 44.6 degrees. In the kitchen, cut tomatoes and cooked meats were not date-marked. The inspector reported he talked to management “about making sure both pages of the inspection report are being posted at the facility (and) is easily accessible to the public.”
Dubuque Golf and Country Club, 1800 Randall Place, Dubuque — A March 16 inspection by the city resulted in 10 citations for alleged violations, including: There was no certified food protection manager with supervisory responsibilities on the staff; Italian sausage cooked and cooled four days prior was measured at 44 degrees and was discarded; feta cheese was dated March 2, and goat cheese was dated March 4, and were discarded; and Canadian bacon and ham that had been in the refrigerator longer than 24 hours without being date-marked was discarded.
Elmwood Country Club, 1734 Country Club Lane, Marshalltown — A March 16 inspection by the state resulted in 10 citations for alleged violations, including: The interior of the ice machines inside The 19th Hole Bar and the North Porch Bar were “soiled with slime-like growth” and ice scoops throughout the establishment were stored inside soiled containers or on dirty surfaces; food items in various refrigeration units of the kitchen — including gouda cream, house-made marinara, house-made sauces and dressings, cooked rice, pulled pork, and Italian sausage — were not discarded seven days after production as required; items in the kitchen prep cooler, such as shredded lettuce, cut tomatoes, and cheeses were not marked with either a production date or discard date; the dishwashing machine in The 19th Hole Bar was not reaching a hot enough temperature for sanitizing; and two containers of diced onions in the kitchen prep cooler had “visible growth” and were discarded. Inspectors also reported that thermometers were not installed in all refrigeration units; a wall in the main kitchen was in poor repair and no longer smooth and easily cleanable; seals on the upright freezer in the kitchen and on the North Porch Bar ice machine were torn, soiled, and in poor repair; a cupboard door in the back of the main kitchen was missing, resulting in exposed wood; white cutting boards used in the kitchen were discolored and had deep grooves cut into them; there were no test strips available to monitor chemical-sanitizing concentrations; shelving units for clean equipment had visible food debris on them; the handles on coolers and drawers in the kitchen had food buildup and debris on them; soiled, empty drink cans were stored in an uncovered container within the main kitchen near clean equipment; and the floor, walls, and ceiling in the dry-storage area were in poor repair with inspectors noting missing and broken tiles, one missing wall, and peeling paint on the ceiling.
Hy-Vee Foods, 2200 W. Kimberly Road, Davenport — A March 16 inspection by the county resulted in seven citations for alleged violations, including several repeat violations. Inspectors reported finding two cans of infant formula with expiration dates of March 1, which was 15 days prior to the date of inspection; the solution used in preparing acidified sushi rice had an expiration date of March 4, and the staff was unable to properly demonstrate the preparation process to ensure food safety; fully prepared raw sushi packages were stored above cooked sushi products and cooked hibachi meals; sliced tomatoes and shredded lettuce at the “Tenderloin Tuesday” station in the front of the store were held at 53 degrees; containers of chorizo and containers of meatballs were observed on the Mia Pizza food-prep table with dates of March 6, which was 10 days prior to the inspection; a container of salsa in the deli area was date-marked March 8; several “clean” pizza pans from the Mia Pizza area were observed to have a buildup of dried food debris on them and required additional cleaning; several “clean” plates from the hibachi area had buildup of food debris and required cleaning; and the shelving racks and bottom of the reach-in cooler in the bakery had a buildup of food debris and needed additional cleaning.
Le’s Restaurant, 113 Colorado Ave., Ames — A March 16 inspection by the state resulted in 11 citations for alleged violations, including: Raw chicken was stored above raw beef; cooked beef, raw-egg mixture and lettuce in the reach-in cooler had no dates on them; there was no soap at the handwashing sink; the dishwasher was not properly cleaning and showed no measurable level of sanitizing concentration; the storage containers for flour, sugar, and other food items had a buildup of debris on them; the scoops in the containers were visibly soiled; and there was no certified food protection manager employed at the restaurant. The inspector reported that he talked to management “about making sure all pages of the inspection report are being posted at the facility (and are) easily accessible to the public.”
Whatcha Smokin’ Barbecue & Brew, 403 Iowa Ave., Luther — A March 16 inspection by the state resulted in 11 citations for alleged violations. Inspectors found undated pork and turkey that had been prepared two days prior, as well as undated pickled onions and pickles. Two containers of cheese sauce were cooling in an ice bath, but after two hours were still above 70 degrees and were discarded. Pickled onions in the walk-in cooler were dated Feb. 9, more than a month prior to the inspection. The can opener had a buildup of debris; the three-compartment sink was not properly sanitizing glasses and dishes and was indicating zero measurable sanitizing concentration. The inspector noted that he talked to management about “making sure both pages of the inspection report are being posted at the facility (and are) easily accessible to the public.”
Casey’s General Store, 2406 Main St., Emmetsburg — A March 16 inspection by the Siouxland District Health Department resulted in five citations for alleged violations. Cooked beef that was date-marked March 4, which was 12 days prior to the inspection, was found in the cooler, as was spinach with a date of Feb. 25, which was 19 days prior to the inspection. Both were discarded. A handwashing sink near the pizza prep area had sausage and food debris in it; chocolate ice cream was measured at 50 degrees in the back of an ice cream machine, which was turned off; and meatballs in a cooler were not date-marked. The inspector also noted the lids on food storage containers were cracked and broken; “clean” food containers were stacked and stored while still wet; the sinks were visibly dirty; and the ceiling tiles in the kitchen had an accumulation of dust buildup.
The Watering Hole, 1911 17th Ave., Oskaloosa — A March 12 inspection by the state resulted in 13 citations for alleged violations. Inspectors noted that the establishment did not have a certified food protection manager on staff, which was the seventh consecutive time the restaurant had been inspected and cited for that same violation. The inspector noted that the interior of the microwave oven was visibly soiled with accumulated debris, and the restaurant had “not been sanitizing any of their food-contact surfaces.” Also, an employee stated that items such as the gravy were marked with “a two-week expiration date,” and employee snacks, beverages, and cigarettes were observed on the food-preparation table.
Cocina Hernandez, 124 N. Walnut St., Colfax — A March 24 inspection by the state resulted in 16 citations for alleged violations, including: Previously cooked carnitas were reheated and were holding at 94 degrees and had to be discarded; a large bucket of queso inside the kitchen cooler from the previous day was holding at 51 degrees and was discarded; numerous food items, including pico, shredded cheese, lettuce, spinach dip, diced tomatoes, and red sauce all were discarded after being measured at unsafe temperatures; the pizza oven and microwave ovens were visibly soiled with accumulated debris; multiple food items, including meat patties, masa jalapeño balls, and tamales inside the reach-in kitchen freezer were stored uncovered; tamales were not marked with their preparation date; the restaurant had no certified food protection manager; and metal pans were being stored in the basin sink that was to be used for handwashing. The inspector also noted that queso was stored in the cooler inside a large five-gallon bucket. Due to the fact that most of the coolers in the restaurant were in disrepair, the inspector concluded the business “does not have enough cold-holding equipment to support continued food-service operation.” The manager agreed to close the restaurant until repairs could be completed and a reopening inspection could be conducted, all of which took place the next day, March 25.
Hy-Vee Foods, 1426 Broadway, Denison — A March 8 inspection by the state resulted in seven citations for alleged violations, including: The establishment did not employ a certified food protection manager; oven-roasted chicken prepared an hour earlier was holding at 123 degrees and was discarded; pulled pork prepared five hours earlier was in cooler, measured at 76 degrees, and was discarded; the handwashing sink in the produce and bakery department was blocked by buckets and other equipment; and multiple food items in a cooler — including smoked pork, smoked ribs and baked potato wedges — had no date markings.
Kentucky Fried Chicken, 3927 Center Point Road NE, Cedar Rapids — A March 8 inspection by the county resulted in seven citations for violations, including: Shelving and trays for holding both raw and cooked chicken in the walk-in cooler had a “dark buildup” and were not clean; cooking and baking equipment was not being cleaned at a frequency that would discourage the accumulation of food debris buildup, as evidenced by the fact that all of the cooking and the hot-holding equipment had “greasy buildup” and debris; handwashing sinks had food debris in them and were not clean; frozen boxes of food were stored in a cooler below dripping water caused by ice condensation; and all of the warming equipment, the handles, doors, and areas under the hot-holding trays of chicken had visible food debris and greasy buildup on them. Inspectors also said they were unable to find thermometers in several of the coolers where food was stored; a food-service employee was working in a dirty apron; sinks were clogged with buildup; a garbage can was stored next to the ready-to-eat boxes of cookies; there was an accumulation of “soiled water” in the fryers; and there was food debris and buildup under all of the cooking and frying equipment. The inspector reported that “the establishment is not maintained in good repair,” and was in poor condition, with the cleaning schedules posted but not followed by the staff. He added that “wall paint is peeling and in disrepair throughout the facility” and “there here are damaged floor tiles throughout the area that accumulate food debris.”
Select Mart, 4103 Floyd Blvd., Sioux City — A March 4 inspection by the Siouxland District Health Department resulted in eight citations for alleged violations. The inspector wrote in his report: “The person in charge did not know Food Safety 101.” He stated that the store’s food-safety training certificate had expired in 2019, and added that he observed hot food being held at temperatures as low as 114 degrees. The cappuccino machine, the nozzle on the machine that dispensed Slushees, and the soda pop dispenser were all visibly dirty, he reported.
The Tama-Toledo Country Club, 806 13th St., Tama — A March 4 inspection by the state resulted in 12 citations for alleged violations, including: The establishment did not employ a certified food protection manager; workers were seen entering the kitchen to prepare food without first washing their hands; shell eggs were stored over ready-to-eat cheese, deli meats, and hot dogs; open packages of deli meat and hot dogs were not marked with the date they were opened or due to be discarded; the dishwashing machine was not dispensing any sanitizer at the time of the inspection; and soap and paper towels were not available at the handwashing sink.
Red Lantern Fine Chinese Cuisine, 4009 E. 53rd St., Davenport — A March 2 inspection by the county resulted in eight citations for alleged violations, including: Raw beef was stored over vegetables; the cooler was holding both raw meat and prepared foods at a temperature of 43 to 46 degrees; lettuce was held in a colander at room temperature; there was no system of marking food with discard dates, which meant that cooked chicken, breaded chicken, and dumplings were all stored with no date markings; “clean” knives were visibly soiled with food and grime; the insides of two reach-in coolers were soiled with old food debris; a worker indicated that he did not know the proper method for sanitizing dishes and food equipment; and there was no soap at the handwashing sink in the food-prep area.
El Bajio, 555 Gateway SW Place, Cedar Rapids — A Feb. 26 inspection by the county resulted in 10 citations for alleged violations: The handwashing sink was broken and inoperable; pans of raw fish and raw chicken in a cooler were stored above a container of juice; queso was being held at 67 degrees rather than 165 degrees; refried beans and rice were dated Feb. 16, which was 10 days prior to the inspection; and salsa made three days earlier was stored without any date markings.