Food & Dining

A rodent-infested chain store, moldy tomatoes, bugs in rice are on ‘Gross Grocers’ list

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Have you ever had food poisoning, and wondered whether to see a doctor? Here are five signs of severe food poisoning that should send you to a doctor for care.

For the second consecutive “Gross Grocers” list, all four South Florida counties are represented. Now, let’s check on some other entities that are familiar.

The last two Gross Grocers lists included a Publix. This one? No.

The last two Gross Grocers lists included a Sedano’s supermarket. This one? Nah.

The last three Gross Grocers list included a Family Dollar store. This one? Streak continues.

What follows comes from Florida Department of Agriculture inspections of supermarkets, bodegas, convenience stores, food storage and food distribution facilities. We don’t control who gets inspected — although you can by clicking here — nor do we control how strictly they’re inspected. We report without passion or prejudice, but with a weekly special on humor.

And a familiar place starts the alphabetical listing:

Family Dollar, 5055 10th Ave., Greenacres — This isn’t a Roach Motel. This is an Extended Stay Rodent No-Tell Motel, so bad that the Dollar Tree/Family Dollar home office closed it down voluntarily after its second consecutive rodent-ridden inspection.

Last Friday, Inspector Katie Hansen returned to where she saw “clumps of fur, with skin attached, stuck to retail shelves” on April 10 and a dead rodent on April 25 in the same place she’d seen it 15 days later.

After the last inspection, a Family Dollar spokesman emailed the Miami Herald: “We voluntarily closed our store and we are working with the health inspector, maintenance, and pest control services to completely address the issue.”

So, let’s see how completely the issue was addressed. Inspector Hansen?

“Retail area: observed rodent droppings under shelves in every aisle in the retail area. Droppings near dead flies and chewed up sunflower seeds. Gnaw marks on cans of peanuts on retail shelf. Corners of the retail area have been blocked off with droppings still behind the boards put up.

“Backroom: observed droppings around pile of trash bags, around mop bucket filled with dirty water, around wet mop sink basin. There are droppings near glue traps placed on the west side of the backroom.”

The Stop Use and Stop Sale orders are still in effect, so the store can’t get any new food products for the rodents to use as chew toys. Still, this Family Dollar has reopened to the public.

Food Town Center, 1960 Opa-locka Blvd., Opa-locka — “Backroom, retail, walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer areas observed old, dry mouse droppings and garbage and lots of debris throughout entire establishment.”

That’s pretty much a whole inspection fail crammed into a single sentence. Perhaps it would be piling on to include, “retail area, observed several bags of culantro herbs adulterated inside refrigerated case.”

Or, in the processing area, “band saw and slicer with old food residue used from prior date” and an ice machine of noteworthy yuck. Also, bulk deli hams and deli turkey breast at temperatures warm enough that they got tossed.

Iberia Food Corp., 12300 NW 32nd Ave., Northwest Miami-Dade — This “major food distributor” had problems by air and land.

“Birds throughout the dry storage facility. Also, observed multiple birds flying in and out of the food storage facility. Furthermore, observed multiple dead roaches on floor in several locations throughout the warehouse.”

At least nothing leaked enough to give them an issue by sea.

“Conveyor belt that takes raw food products into the weighing/filling/packaging machine with an accumulation of food residue and dust. Also, observed walls around the machine with an accumulation of dust.”

There’s no handwashing sink next to the warewashing sink in the repacking area. There better be in 30 days.

Jumbo Supermarket, 5851 Lake Worth Rd., Greenacres — On the retail shelves, “numerous bags of rice have grain eating bugs inside.”

“Flying bugs observed,” in the retail, food service and meat departments despite “insect control device installed over juicing machine and single use drink items.”

In the backroom, there’s bad coverage, as in an “unfinished ceiling over the produce area” and “chicken left uncovered in the back walk-in meat cooler.”

Apparently, the staff’s too busy to grab a rag and do a wipe because the food processing area can opener “has food debris stuck in it.”

Food trashed for being at too warm a temperature for too long included green bean salad, lettuce salad, the sprouts in the produce cooler and “packaged watermelon by chicken hot case.”

Kessler Kafe, 31 Ocean Reef Dr., Key Largo — In the food service area, the inspector saw “mold-like growth on tomatoes stored in prep cooler under pastry case.” Tossed those, as well as the chopped lettuce in prep cooler that was too warm.

“Employee observed not washing hands before donning gloves and not washing hands after entering processing area to work with open food.”

Then again, employees couldn’t get to the handwashing sink. A chest freezer blocked the way.

Liancourt Leogane, 601 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach — “Evidence of rodent activity throughout the storage shelves mainly concentrated along the side wall.” The inspector dropped a Stop Use on the shelves Monday that was lifted Tuesday after proper cleaning.

“A couple of bags of rice were found to have been compromised by rodents chewing their way into bags.” Yeah, but Hubie and Bert better have their fun now because this store apparently is growing its own live rodent deterrent: “two live kittens in the back storage room.”

But there were “ants crawling around on the floor in the back room which contained the two kittens.”

“Dead flies in the retail showcase.”

No paper towels in the backroom restroom. No paper towels or soap at the meat department handwashing sink.

Let’s stay with the meat department mess.

”An unclean buildup of old food particles on both meat saws.”

“The drain pipes on the warewashing sink have become disconnected from the main line. The floor drain is plugged up by debris in the meat department processing area. (So) there is standing water in the meat deparment processing area and beside the walk-in cooler and freezer.”

And, there was mold around the doors of the walk-in freezer and cooler.

Lyden Spice Corp., 3211 E. 11th Ave., Hialeah — “Rodent droppings all around the warehouse, where storage of spices in bulk takes place.

A Stop Use got put on “all dry storage warehouse area.”

That’s got a problem when your stated raison d’etre is “dry storage.”

Maven Baker, 1629 S. 21st St., Hollywood — This wholesale bakery is so new, it’s Florida Food Establishment Number hasn’t been assigned.

Before that happens, Maven might want to move into the running hot water era.

“No handwash sink installed in processing rooms. Operator must install a hand wash sink with hot and cold running water and proper drainage. At time of inspection only observed one installed hand sink for the entire food entity, hand sink is not conveniently located for the processing rooms.”

Mazzone Foods, 750 S. Powerline Rd., Building No. 5, Deerfield Beach — First inspection on the page of this “major food distributor,” and it came up minor.

“Food debris under and behind pallets in dry stock area. Observed damaged five gallon buckets of pickles leaking in walk-in cooler.”

“There are no written sanitation monitoring records available for safety of water, control of employee health conditions, exclusion of pests, maintenance of toilet and hand wash facilities, storage of chemicals and prevention of adulteration.”

Olive Tree Market, 9724 SW 168th St., South Miami-Dade — Water problems.

“No hot water connection available at both of the employee restroom hand sinks. Food establishment has 30 calendar days to make necessary changes so that hot water is available at these sinks.”

Also, the “septic permit was not provided during inspection.”

Porterfino Supermarket, 2900 W. 12th Ave., Hialeah — First visit by the inspector in two weeks shy of two years. This inspection says one should drop by more often. And, because of this failure, one will be back by June 17.

Out for sale, “three tomatoes in the produce rack with visible mold-like spots and white fuzz.”

“...glue trap with toxic rodent bait food placed on top part of large bread oven.”

A food service employee didn’t wash her hands before putting on gloves to cook and take part in open food service. There wasn’t any soap at the handwash sink anyway.

A food service employee used “the same gloves for multiple tasks, including working from raw food to ready to eat and touching hair/face area and continuing with the same gloves.”

Also, “toxic garbage bag used as bin liner housing bulk sugar.” When the inspector saw this, the sugar really was garbage. So were milk in a metal container and cartons of raw eggs (each was too warm).

This place hasn’t seen the inspector and too much of its cookware hasn’t seen a dishwasher. Or, apparently, even a faucet spray.

With today’s lunch meat, the slicer also offers “yellow old stuck on food residue on between blade and blade guard and on teeth to push tool.” Other cookware needed cleaning, too. Such as the “blender jug found with black and yellow rim around interior bottom and top rim, and white cutting boards/knives used to cut ham/cheese and steak sandwiches in use past the four-hour mark, not cleaned as required.”

Also not cleaned in a timely (every 24 hours) manner were “deep fryer baskets found with grease build up” and “baking pans found encrusted in grease and carbon buildup.”

Restaurant Depot, 8850 77th Ct., Medley — Mops are cheap, folks.

“Accumulation of food residue on floor between aisles. Specifically, dried rice, quinoa, and flour were scattered throughout dry storage area.”

And some “Life on Earth” scenes that would’ve been more beautiful if this were the forest and not a “major food distributor.”

“Observed bird flying overhead in north east corner of building in dry storage area. A young bird, unable to fly, was also observed between wall and pallet in the same area. Also, in cooler on south side of building, another bird was observed flying overhead in and out of cooler into cold area.”

Rolly Grocery Store, 27455 S. Dixie Hwy., Homestead — We’re not Heloise, but a helpful hint nonetheless: Before your New Establishment inspection, take out the vacuum cleaner and attachments and suck up some of the “dust, dirt and cobwebs accumulated inside cabinets shelving in enclosed room.”

While you’re sucking all that up, you might get the “live roaches observed in cabinets and shelving units in enclosed room...”

Saifan Food Mart, 15700 SW 288th St., Homestead — Another initial inspection as the owners submit their food establishment permit application. And, for the inspection version of a first date, this was, well...

“Multiple dead roaches and other insects observed on floor of storage rooms.”

“Rodent droppings observed on floor and walls of back storage room and inside cabinets under the three-compartment sink.”

“Rodent droppings observed on floor of retail storage room. Stop Use order issued.”

After that, do you really care about the dust on the fan guards or the hole in the drywall inside the unisex employee restroom?

Sunset Shell, 10191 SW 72nd St., Southwest Miami-Dade — In the food service area, “old yellow food residue on blade of lunch meat slicer.”

They took it to be cleaned, but weren’t doing the sanitizing step.

“Inside a plastic counter top case, found ham and cheese sandwich and media noche sandwich at ambient temperature of 70.” That’s like the setting for a bacteria orgy.

Super Star K, 4100 Oakland Park Blvd., Lauderdale Lakes — People like to make quick pit stops in small groceries like this one to grab drinks, especially on 100-degree heat index days.

“Backroom, ice machine found with yellow mildew-like stains on ice chute and on walls on interior bin. Retail, nozzles and interior dispenser to slushy/icy machines found with black mold-like spotting. Stop Use order issued.”

Imagine the drinks made before the Stop Use order.

“Lunch meat slicer found with old stuck on food residue on blade and push tool attachment.”

A food service employee didn’t “wash her hands before donning new gloves, in between changing gloves or after her hands have become contaminated while working with open foods.”

In the backroom, “handwashing sink not located in area where warewash sink and open foods are located. Establishment has 30 calendar days to install a handsink with hot and cold running water.”

“Various packs of roasted peanuts and tablet peanuts found on rack and on counter top obtained from unapproved source (homemade).” Good as they might be, can’t sell them here.

Jamaican patties, shredded lettuce and cut tomatoes got trashed because, like a sick kid, they had a temperature.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.

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