A sack of rotted, bug-infested potatoes in a grocery store’s back room and restaurant ingredients too old to serve were among problems noted at Sedgwick County food sellers inspected by the Kansas Department of Agriculture in February.
Twenty-three Wichita area food establishments (like restaurants, gas stations and schools) and businesses that charge for sleeping accommodations (hotels and motels, for example) were out of compliance last month, according to inspection results posted on the agency’s website. Not all businesses that have violations are considered out of compliance.
An inspector who went to Mize’s Thriftway in Clearwater on Feb. 26 had an employee throw out a bag of spoiled spuds sitting on a hallway rack that had “bugs crawling throughout the package.” The store also trashed opened packages of deli meats that were too old to sell to customers, according to an inspection report.
In Wichita, Angelo’s Italian Foods at 5231 E. Central was cited on Feb. 28 for keeping a pan of cooked chicken thighs in its up-right cooler for too long. Old Town Square’s Vietnamese restaurant Lemongrass, 300 N. Mead, tossed tofu, cheesecake, chocolate mousse and crabcake balls on Valentine’s Day due to age during an inspection.
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And Madrocks Sports Bar, 1821 Madison Ave. in Derby, trashed pork, chicken pieces, sliced ham, chili, sauerkraut, pasta and other items on Feb. 19 because they either had been stored for more than a week, or had a preparation date that no one knew, according to an inspection report.
Other food sellers found with out-of-date items include:
▪ Roxy’s Downtown, 412 E. Douglas, which pitched bottles of BOLS and Southern Comfort contaminated with dead insects, 14-day-old brie and week-old chicken products on Feb. 14 following a complaint
▪ Los Compadres Mexican Grill, 3212 N. Toben, which put 10-day-old chicharron sauce into the garbage on Feb. 12
▪ Kimson Asian Market, 960 E. Pawnee, which on Feb. 6 trashed pork headcheese that had been sitting and marked for sale in a reach-in case by the store’s checkout counter.
The Wichita Eagle curates a database of the non-compliant inspections. You can search it using keywords like roach or mold or bedbug (or as two words, “bed bug”), by a business’ name or address, or by date. Simply hit the search button if you want to see the violations at all establishments.
When is a business out of compliance?
It’s common for businesses to have some violations during an inspection. The number and kind of violations discovered, though, determine whether a business appears on the non-compliant list.
A business is considered out of compliance if an inspector finds three or more priority violations — those that directly affect the prevention of food-borne illnesses — or five or more priority foundation violations — issues that could lead to problems preventing food-borne illnesses. Both types are considered critical violations, which require immediate attention.
A business is also out of compliance if it has a problem that isn’t or can’t be corrected immediately in front of an inspector, like a plumbing problem. Businesses found to be non-compliant are required to have follow-up inspections.
Inspectors also note what’s known as core violations on their reports. Those are problems that aren’t considered critical.
The frequency of inspections depends on the type of facility. Most restaurants are inspected once every 12 to 18 months. All establishments are inspected when they open as part of the licensing process and also when someone complains about conditions.
Inspections can take place at any time, and follow-up inspections take place if violations aren’t corrected on site immediately.
How to complain about conditions
To file a confidential food safety complaint involving illness, call the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Response at 877-427-7317 or email EpiHotline@kdheks.gov.
Food establishments include grocery stores, gas stations and convenience stores, senior meal sites, mobile food units, restaurants and schools. Food processors include wholesalers, warehouses, packers and manufacturers. Lodging establishments include hotels and motels, boarding houses and any other operation that charges for sleeping accommodations.
You can learn more about Kansas’ lodging and food safety laws here.