Restaurant inspection update: Moldy drumsticks, cockroaches in the bread mix
Fire department officials summoned health inspectors to this Sioux City grocery store where the owner agreed to voluntarily close until he could hire an exterminator, remove all of the food and clean the building. (Photo via Google Earth)
State and county food inspectors have cited Iowa restaurants and grocery stores for hundreds of food-safety violations this past month, including moldy food, filthy kitchens and cockroaches found inside the food itself.
Fire department officials summoned health inspectors to one Iowa grocery store where the owner agreed to voluntarily close until he could hire an exterminator, remove all of the food and clean the building.
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 inspections at Iowa restaurants, stores, schools, hospitals and other businesses over the past four 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.
Latin King, 2200 Hubbell Ave., Des Moines — During an Aug. 3 visit, a state inspector concluded the person in charge at the restaurant was not demonstrating fulfillment of their duties due to the extent of the violations noted.
The inspector cited the eatery for 14 serious risk-factor violations and noted “multiple juvenile and adult roaches” inside a cabinet within a food-preparation cooler. The inspector informed the owner that moisture resulting from other violations related to the plumbing and the general facility sanitation were contributing to conditions that could result in the proliferation of pests.
The inspector observed an employee grabbing spinach, with their bare hands, to place on a plate. Cooked noodles prepared the previous day were holding inside a walk-in cooler at 45 degrees, 56 degrees and 54 degrees and had to be discarded. Sliced tomatoes were not cooled properly and were holding at 48 degrees four and a half hours after they were prepared and had to be discarded. Also, chicken on the stove was holding at 118 to 129 degrees and had to be reheated to 165 degrees.
Cut lettuce was measured at 61 degrees and meat ravioli at 68 degrees and were discarded. Liquid eggs that were stored at 54 degrees and raw chicken that was stored at 55 degrees were moved to a walk-in cooler. At the salad station, sliced greens and tomatoes were holding at 48 to 49 degrees and were discarded. In one cooler, sour cream was holding at 55 degrees, the half-and-half milk and cream mixture was holding at 56 degrees and butter was holding at 60 degrees. Each of those items was discarded.
The inspector also noted that there were multiple foods throughout the restaurant – including sliced tomatoes, cut greens, lasagna, ravioli, cooked beef and cooked ham — that were not marked with their preparation dates. The items whose preparation dates could not be verified were discarded. Also, the meat and cheese slicer, as well as a plastic container of knives, were visibly soiled with dried, accumulated debris, as was the interior basin of the ice machine.
One of the kitchen’s handwashing sinks was covered by a pan of breading/flour and was rendered inaccessible, while another handwashing sink was being used as a dump sink for dishware. In addition, ground beef was thawing at room temperature rather than in a cooler; multiple knives were being stored in standing water; the three-compartment sink and the plumbing lines under the bar were leaking; the area below the bar was visibly soiled with accumulated debris; and the area below one sink was saturated with pooling water.
Also, the restaurant had changed ownership at some point without applying for a new food-service license. After the fees and penalties were paid, the application for a new license was approved.
Isak Grocery Store, 1123 Nebraska St., Sioux City — During a July 15 visit, an inspector from the Siouxland District Health Department cited the store for having no certified food protection manager on staff.
The inspector also reported that live pests that appeared to be cockroaches were found in a bucket of injera mixture typically used to make sour fermented flatbread. The bucket was stored underneath a sink, where inspectors also found raw meat stored. The inspector found a jug of milk, as well as raw meat and raw eggs, that were stored at 76 degrees. All of the food was discarded.
The inspectors also determined the store was not sanitizing dishware and found that the handwashing sink was not accessible to workers and was covered by a dish rack. The establishment was also using non-food-grade pesticide, such as Raid, that had to be discarded.
The inspector noted that cockroaches were “present in the food” at the store and were seen under the sink and throughout the building, adding that the floors and walls were visibly soiled with food debris and dirt.
The inspection was completed in response to phone call from a fire department official indicating the store was cooking without the proper ventilation.
The inspection was categorized as a routine, non-complaint inspection. The inspector reported that after he made note of “several live pests throughout the facility and in food containers,” the owner agreed to close and until a pest control service could be called, all of the food was removed and the store was cleaned.
Hy-Vee Foods, 2540 Euclid Ave., Des Moines — During a July 18 visit, a state inspector cited the store for 15 serious risk-factor violations and noted that the person in charge was not demonstrating fulfillment of their duties due to the extent of the violations noted.
The inspector reported that a package of “cheese from May was observed to be visibly adulterated with a mold-like substance” and was offered for sale in the reach-in cheese cooler. The cheese and other unspecified expired packages of food were then discarded. The inspector also found raw bacon stored above hot dogs; cubed steak stored above whole-muscle steak in a display case; and ground lamb stored above packaged, whole-muscle steaks in a retail display.
In the Hy-Vee Kitchen, fried chicken was measured at 117 degrees, spicy fried chicken was measured at 112 degrees, and grilled chicken was measured at 105 degrees – all of which were re-cooked to 165 degrees. In addition, the rotisserie chickens in a store display case were measured at 126 degrees and discarded. In the cooler for the Asian Foods section, raw pork was measured at 49 degrees and raw beef at 50 degrees. The ambient temperature of the cooler was then measured at 53 degrees and all of the affected food was discarded.
Other food that had to be discarded included Market Grille containers of batter, sliced Swiss cheese, apple filling, liquid egg whites, coleslaw, bleu cheese and cut fruit – all of which were out of safe-temperature ranges. Sliced ham and sliced roast beef in the deli area and an assortment of yogurts in a display case were also discarded, as was sliced watermelon and sliced cantaloupe.
An assortment of foods — including gravy, shredded lettuce, an open container of salsa and sliced fruits – were not marked with their preparation dates. Those that had no verifiable preparation date were discarded.
Inspectors also found a container of salsa dated July 11 and baked beans that had been prepared 17 days prior, on July 1. In the Market Grille bar area, the soda fountain’s ice-dispenser chutes were found to be visibly soiled with accumulated debris. In that same area, soiled dishes were found in the basin of the handwashing sink.
In addition, the staff was not following the store’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point program for the safe preparation of sushi; and there were multiple flying insects observed throughout the store, and were concentrated in the Asian Foods, Market Grille, Kitchen and Bakery areas of the store.
The inspector also noted that multiple refrigeration units, as well as retail units used to display cut melons, meat and seafood, were in disrepair and were not operating to manufacturers’ specifications.
Also, the handwashing sink in the Deli area was leaking and the area behind the handwashing sink in the Sushi area was “heavily soiled with accumulated debris and moisture.”
Wendy’s, 301 W. 15th St., Sioux City — During a July 18 visit, inspectors from the Siouxland District Health Department cited the restaurant for having no certified food protection manager on staff and noted that there were repeat risk-factor violations related to cold-holding food items, the handwashing sinks, and the lack of date markings on food.
The inspector measured cut lettuce, tomato, sauces, and cheese at 47 to 53 degrees, resulting in all of that food being discarded. Also, cut lettuce and tomatoes in the cooler were not dated; the dishwashing machine had no measurable amount of sanitizing solution in it; and while there was “standing water” on the floor, it was minimal and appeared to have been mopped up.
A few employees reported that “it” – an apparent reference to the sewer line — backs up occasionally. The inspection was in response to a complaint concerning pest control and the sewer, which was deemed “verifiable.” The inspector reported that he called the city with regard to the plumbing at the restaurant and was told that since the establishment had no liquor license, the city did not regulate it.
Asian Star Buffet, 804 Story St., Boone — During an Aug. 9 visit, a state inspector cited the restaurant for holding cooked foods at room temperature during the cooling process. The inspector also noted that “partially cooked egg rolls, noodles and chicken” were not being rapidly cooled and that watermelon in the buffet was holding at 64 degrees and had to be discarded.
In addition, rice was stored directly on the floor and kitchen knives were stored in a dirty, stainless-steel containers that had debris in the bottom. Also, the kitchen floor and walls were visibly soiled, as were the floors of the walk-in cooler and freezer.
The visit was in response to a non-illness complaint concerning general facility cleanliness and sanitation but was categorized as a routine inspection. The inspector deemed the complaint unverified.
Story County Medical Center, 640 S. 19th St., Nevada — During an Aug. 9 visit, a state inspector cited the medical center for a kitchen employee failing to wash their hands; for storing raw bacon above the ready-to-eat food products; and for failing to store numerous food products – including coleslaw, turkey, egg salad, pasta salad, chicken and boiled eggs — at a temperature warmer than 41 degrees, which resulted in all of those products being thrown away.
Also, the fluid used in the kitchen as sanitizing solution had no measurable amount of concentrated sanitizing solution.
Casa Tequila Authentic Mexican Grill, 1100 Andersen Place, Tiffin — During an Aug. 5 visit, a Johnson County inspector cited the establishment for storing raw chicken above ready-to-eat food inside a walk-in cooler, and for holding refried beans prepared the previous day at 49 degrees.
Also, house-made queso was holding at 106 degrees – too cool to ensure it was safe to serve. It was moved to the stove and reheated to 165 degrees. The inspector also noted multiple house-made foods that were not date marked to ensure they were safe to serve.
Old Chicago, 75 2nd St., Coralville — During an Aug. 5 visit, a Johnson County inspector cited the establishment for numerous foods – including pepperoni, roasted mushrooms, garlic mayonnaise, bacon, tomatoes and meatballs – that were not being kept at temperatures below 41 degrees. All of the food in one of the coolers was discarded.
Also, the restaurant was storing ground beef, shredded cheeses and tomatoes beyond the maximum seven-day limit for house-prepared foods and had to be discarded.
In addition, the dishwashing machine was unable to reach sanitizing temperatures of 160 degrees or higher. Also, a handwashing sink on the food-prep line was being used instead to store spray bottles and used rags.
Vivian’s Soul Food, 2925 Williams Parkway, Cedar Rapids — During an Aug. visit, a Linn County inspector observed one of the cooks handling pork with bare hands and then placing the food in a to-go container. Also, a box of smoked chicken drumsticks in a cooler had a “buildup of dark cooler mold” and had to be discarded.
Also, raw meat was stored above ready-to-eat food items, and recently cooked spaghetti was covered and placed in a cooler to chill rather than being rapidly chilled in an ice container. In addition, there were several food items that had no date markings on them, including cooked beans, gravy, macaroni and cheese and milk.
Also, the dishwashing machine was not able to properly sanitize dishes, and a handwashing sink was used to store plastic containers and was not working properly due a missing part.
The inspector also noted that there was no food thermometer on hand to check the temperature of cooked meat; a box of beef was stored directly on the floor of the walk-in cooler; hot dogs in the freezer were left uncovered and had ice buildup on them; one wall was soiled; and the flooring was not in good repair.
Bella Sera Italian Restaurant, 169 Oak Ridge Drive, Denison — During an Aug. 4 visit, a state inspector cited the establishment for failing to have a certified food protection manager on staff.
The inspector observed an employee beginning to prepare a ready-to-eat lettuce salad with bare hands.
Also, the restaurant was cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 147 degrees rather than the minimum 165 degrees. In addition, the handwashing sink had no hand soap and was being used to clean utensils.
The inspector also noted that sticky fly traps were hanging from the ceiling directly above the food-preparation areas and there were two uncovered containers of garlic and oil stored inside a walk-in cooler directly below the condenser fans, creating a risk of contamination.
In addition, the inspector noted an accumulation of crusted food debris on the stove top and other areas. The visit was triggered by an illness complaint but was categorized as a routine inspection. The inspector determined the complaint was unverifiable.
Hy-Vee Foods, 1201 12th Ave. SW, Le Mars — During an Aug. 2 visit, an inspector from the Siouxland District Health Department noted that the store’s outdoor, seasonal “burger barn” was not equipped with a handwashing sink and reported that the person in charge was not familiar with employee-health reporting requirements.
The inspector also noted that raw chicken was being stored above cooked chicken inside a cooler; chicken-based salad in a cooler was measured at 43 degrees and had to be discarded; and sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and cheese in the burger barn were holding at 50 to 67 degrees.
In addition, a microwave oven and a cappuccino machine were visibly soiled; there was no thermometer in the burger barn’s cooler; there were flying insects in the kitchen area; the lids used for holding food in the burger barn area visibly soiled; and there was a “buildup” of some unspecified nature on the kitchen floors.
The inspector also reported that employees were unable to say when certain foods — including cooked chicken, pasta salad and potato salad — were either prepared or scheduled to be disposed of and so those items were discarded during the inspection.
Cabos Cantina and Grill, 1500 E. LeClaire Road, Eldridge — During an Aug. 1 visit, a Scott County inspector noted there was no certified food protection manager on staff and the manager was not scheduled to take the class until November.
In addition, the inspector reported that raw beef was stored above jalapeños and zucchini, and raw fish was stored above onions, which was a repeat violation. Also, queso was holding at 106 degrees and pork carnitas at 91 degrees and had to be reheated to 165 degrees. This, too, was a repeat violation.
The inspector also noted that six large, deep containers of salsa prepared the day before were in a cooler and had yet to cool below 41 degrees as required. This was another repeat violation, and the salsa was discarded.
Also, the blades of a slicer were crusted with dried food debris and a box of roach poison and a box of mouse traps, with bait, were stored on top of one slicer blade.
Margarita’s Sports Bar, 823 Wheeler St., Ames — During an Aug. 1 visit, a state inspector observed clams thawing in stagnant water and noted that an employee failed to wash their hands between the handling of dirty dishes and food preparation.
Also, raw meat and raw chorizo were stored above ready-to-eat foods; the chemical dishwashing machine was not properly sanitizing dishes; the three-compartment sink was in disrepair so the restaurant was unable to sanitize equipment and utensils; and there were multiple gnats and other flying insects throughout the establishment.
Also, sink drains were not functioning; the handle on one sink was leaking water; and the faucet of another sink was leaking when shut off. The inspection was scheduled in advance of the restaurant opening and after it was completed the business’ license application was approved.
Fong’s Pizza, 223 4th St., Des Moines — During a July 29 visit, a state inspector noted the interior of the ice machine was visibly soiled with what appeared to be a buildup of mold. In addition, the restaurant had a buildup of what appeared to be food and debris on the walls and floor of the main kitchen and basement kitchen. The visit was prompted by a non-illness complaint concerning general facility sanitation. The inspector deemed the complaint verified.
Siamville, 3635 1st Ave., Cedar Rapids — During a July 28 visit, a Linn County inspector noted that all cooked sauces or gravies inside the establishment’s reach-in cooler had been stored uncovered, allowing for cross-contamination.
In addition, none of the cooked or raw foods were marked with preparation or expiration dates; all of the equipment – including coolers, freezers, and microwave ovens – were soiled with debris; and there were utensils that were visibly soiled. “All food contact surfaces, such as tables, are sticky,” the inspector reported.
Unpackaged food was being stored uncovered and was left exposed to dust and “other old debris.” A rice cooker was found to be “sticky and with debris outside;” the shelving used for clean dishes was very dusty; and the floor and walls were marred with greasy debris and buildup.
Rebos, 1107 4th St., Sioux City — During a July 27 visit, an inspector with the Siouxland District Health Department cited the establishment for failure to have a certified food protection manager on staff.
The inspector observed the cook moving between the dishwashing area and the food-preparation area without washing his hands, and he also noted that chicken that was holding at 110 degrees needed to be reheated to 165 degrees.
The inspector also reported that “the side upright unit” – apparently, a cooler or refrigerator — was 50 to 60 degrees inside and “several items” had to be discarded. In addition, “cooked food” of some kind was not date marked, and the dishwashing machines were not properly sanitizing dishes.
Also, the restaurant had no thin-tipped thermometers on hand to check the temperature of cooked meat; utensils were left to sit in warm water after each use; and a paint brush was being used to butter foods.
Broadlawns Medical Center, 1801 Hickman Road, Des Moines — During a July 27 visit, an inspector reported that trays of mashed potatoes in a hot-holding unit were measured at 117 degrees to 123 degrees and needed to be reheated to 165 degrees to ensure they were safe to serve.
Blocks of cheese in a metal container in the retail grill area were measured at 47 degrees to 51 degrees and had to be chilled on ice to bring them down to maximum allowed temperature of 41 degrees. In addition, a mounted can opener, a soda-dispensing nozzle and an ice chute in the soda fountain area were visibly soiled with accumulated debris.
Iron Saddle Saloon, 39 S. Main St., Dayton — During a July 26 visit, inspectors cited the restaurant for failing to employ a certified food protection manager. The inspector noted that food items inside a reach-in freezer had an ice buildup and needed to be discarded.
He also reported that none of the food items in two of the coolers – including taco meat, diced tomatoes and onions and cut lettuce — were date marked and had to be discarded. In addition, unspecified items in the restaurant’s two-door refrigerator were held past the maximum allowable seven days and had to be discarded.
Also, non-food-grade pesticide was being stored near food and utensils; the kitchen had no thin-tipped thermometers to check the temperature of meat; the interior of the two-door refrigerator was soiled with food debris and liquids; and the kitchen floor was marred by missing tiles.
Eastwood’s Sports Bar, 106 E. Main St., Solon — During a July 20 visit, a Johnson County inspector noted there was no certified food protection manager on staff.
Also, the inspector watched as one worker handled raw pork tenderloins and then began to work with ready-to-eat foods without first washing their hands. Another employee was observed handling ready-to-eat hamburger buns with their bare hands.
Also, raw chicken and raw pork was stored above ready-to-eat foods inside a cooler; diced tomatoes, pizza toppings and cooked pulled pork lacked any date markings; there was a heavy buildup of debris on the inside of the microwave oven; and there was a dirt and grease buildup throughout kitchen, with the inspector recommending a “deep cleaning of walls, floors, ceiling and equipment.”
Good Fellows Kitchen, 501 Walker St., Woodbine — During a July 20 visit, a state inspector noted that the walk-in cooler was not keeping any of the food inside cold enough, with cooked ham measured at 52 degrees; sausage soup at 50 degrees; and turkey at 48 degrees.
La Flama Restaurant, 3871 Elmore Ave., Davenport — During a July 20 visit, a Scott County inspector watched employees cutting meat and then washing their hands “by briefly running them under cold water without soap” before wiping their hands dry on their clothing.
Also, employees who were cutting raw meat washed their hands in a food-prep sink filled with raw meat. In addition, the main cook used their bare hands to make taco salads for customers; cooked steak was found stored underneath a grill at 100 degrees; and the handwashing sink in the back kitchen area had no hot water supplied to it.
Mr. Eggroll, 3330 Indianola Ave., Des Moines — During a July 19 visit, a state inspector cited the establishment for having no certified food protection manager on staff and for kitchen staff members who moved between tasks without handwashing. The inspector noted a food mixer soiled by food debris and reported that the only handwashing sink was blocked by buckets.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.