Roaches at Fausto’s, rodents at the Trading Post, mystery with the ‘key lime pie lady’

Was there a Department of Agriculture Inspectors Convention in the Keys this month?

Most two-to-three-week periods covered by a Gross Grocers report won’t include any Monroe County establishments. Rarely will one fail inspection. Usually Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach alone will have more places fail inspection than Monroe County has places that got inspected.

Not this time — eight failures among over seven pages of inspections.

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What follows comes from the Florida Department of Agriculture inspections of supermarkets, grocers, convenience stores, food distributors and pretty much any place that sells packaged food. Unlike the restaurant inspections by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation that make our Sick and Shut Down List, inspectors can’t close down an entire business, but can put Stop Use orders on areas in the business.

We don’t control who gets inspected (although you can by filing a complaint here) or how strictly they get inspected. We report without passion or prejudice but with a handbasket of humor.

And we go in alphabetical order...

Fausto’s Gulfstream, 1105 White St., Key West — Fausto’s failed March 20 inspection put the place that brags of being “Key West’s oldest continuous business” on our last Gross Grocers list. Now, Fausto’s is one of Key West’s continuous Gross Grocers.

In the deli and back room area, “Multiple live and dead roaches observed by inspector. All foods processed in deli area were voluntarily discarded by management.”

If Fausto’s doesn’t clear out the roaches by the next inspection, the inspection warns, “a Stop Use order will be issued on all receiving areas of the establishment and the establishment will no longer be allowed to receive additional food items.”

In the deli and meat department, the three-compartment sink had a direct connection with the sewer system, a repeat violation. That means if there’s a sewer backup, the cookware washing sinks will resemble the toilets. Fausto’s has until June 18 to correct this or “failure to comply will result in a Stop Use of all food service.”

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Pierogi Polish Market, 1008 White St., Key West — Egg salad made at home by the owner and sold in the store? That’s a no-no. This isn’t church potluck dinner.

They had to throw out soup and milk, neither of which were kept properly cooled.

No hot water at the handwashing sink means no proper handwashing in the food processing area. That’s a problem.

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Southernmost Shell, 1900 N. Roosevelt Blvd., Key West — An inspector hadn’t checked out this mini-mart since April 6, 2017.

“Food Service area, employee not washing hands upon entering processing areas or before donning gloves to work with open food.”

“Employees observed making bare hand contact with ready-to-eat cheese while cutting it and ready-to-eat tortillas while serving them.” Reading that, what you don’t want to see as the next citation is “handwashing sink blocked by bucket placed in it.”

Have a Coke and a slime? In the food processing area, “Mold-like accumulation on food-contact surfaces inside ice machine.” In the retail area, “mold-like accumulation on food-contact surfaces of dispensing nozzles and ice chute of soda machine.”

Oh, and “utensils weren’t sanitized before use.”

Southernmost Deli & Grocery, 1330 Simonton St., Key West — Like the Southernmost Shell, maybe it’s too far south for inspectors. Last inspection: Feb. 9, 2017.

After watching various employee handwashing faux pas, the inspector noted “No hot water at handsink in unisex restroom.” Southernmost has 30 days to come correct on that.

There were deli meats “dated for 3/17 and 3/22.” Not sure if that’s when they expired or when they got opened. But, seeing as how they should have been in the garbage seven days after opening and this was an April 3 inspection, that’s a Dead Thing 1-is-deader-than-Dead Thing 2 distinction.

“Employee unisex restroom door opens directly into processing area.” That and a direct connect between the three-compartment sink need to be fixed by July 4 or administrative lightning will strike.

The Sugar Apple, 917 Simonton St., Key West — Sugar Apple laid a road apple during its April 5 inspection.

Combination you don’t want to see on an inspection, from the deli area. “Food employees making bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat produce as they blend them and salads as they package them” and no soap or paper towels at the handwashing sink. The produce and the salads got tossed.

Workers were using the three-compartment sink to wash their hands, but weren’t using the three-compartment sink to sanitize utensils, the reason for the three-compartment sink.

“No hot water provided at handwashing sink in employee unisex restroom.” Yeah, there’s no backup sink there. The Sugar Apple has until May 4 to correct this.

Ready-to-eat salads and sliced tomatoes that needed to be at 41 degrees measured at 77 to 85 degrees. The salads, tomatoes, and live sprouts and salsa on ice packs all got tossed for temperature abuse.

Sunrise Supermarket & Restaurant, 91875 Overseas Highway, Tavernier — Well, that cash register blocking the handwashing sink with no hot water starts the inspection off with the inspector’s foot in your back door.

“Observed cheese stored on shelf in deli cooler not covered or protected…”

In the meat department, an “accumulation of organic matter on sides and on splash guard of ice machine.” That’s not to be confused with the “dried on meat debris residue on tenderizer and grinder not used today.”

As at Fausto’s, there’s a problem with the direct connection between the three-compartment sink and the sewage system. Sunrise has until July 8 to fix the problem or see an early sundown.

Trading Post, U.S. 1 Mile Marker 81, Islamorada — Did employees think they’d seen a ghost when Inspector Christian Acosta walked into The Post? No inspector had given The Post a once over April 5, 2017.

And management showed how much regard it held for the process by “no manager present during inspection. Owner left at the beginning of the inspection.”

Inspector Acosta opened his report with similar disregard for Post management. “No active managerial control at establishment. Employees not washing hands as required per code; no thermometer to verify receiving temperatures and food temperature abuse citations in units throughout establishment.”

Maybe neither the owner nor manager wanted to be associated with a produce department that had “rodent droppings observed on floor, under shelving racks and crates stockpiled in corner by walk-in cooler.”

When you’re selling packaged key lime pies, you have to have more documentation than employees saying they came from the “key lime pie lady.” Inspector Acosta dropped a Stop Sale on that.

This sounds like one that might have slid by, especially in Key West, had somebody from management hung around for the inspection. “Customer observed walking throughout establishment with dog on a leash; employees observed disregarding live animals inside store.”

Inspector Acosta dropped Stop Uses equally, on both the hot and the cold units, neither one of which worked.

Tropical Food Market, 5636 Third Ave., Key West — Tropical hadn’t been inspected since Dec. 9, 2016. And it showed.

The handwashing sink near the coffee machine was used to store coffee grounds. Maybe that’s why they didn’t bother to put any soap there.

The toilet room opens right onto the kitchen and doesn’t have a self-closing door. Ah, the fumes and micro feces floating out...

Cooked rice kept overnight remained way too warm, 60 degrees when it needed to be down at 41.

A cooking oil funnel with holes and “heavy residue buildup” was trashed. The deli slicer with “food residue buildup on food contact surfaces” got cleaned.

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.