Critters — including roaches, a rotting mouse and a cat hanging around food-preparation equipment — and a grocery store that failed to shutdown departments that had no hot water were among problems Kansas Department of Agriculture food safety inspectors found at Wichita-area businesses last month.
March proved busy for inspectors, with 44 Sedgwick County food sellers deemed out of compliance, according to inspection results posted on KDA’s website. Not all businesses that had violations were considered out of compliance.
An inspector who visited Pig In Pig Out BBQ, 1003 E. 13th, on March 26 noted 14 violations, including “a live cat in (an) outside storage shed” where restaurant “equipment and cooking supplies were present.” The 15 violations reported at Great Wall Chinese Restaurant at 410 N. Hillside Ste. 600, on March 25 included “one live roach on (a) sticky trap” behind some line coolers next to a floor drain.
Great Wall told the inspector that it gets pest control treatments twice a month, with the last happening on March 14. The restaurant promised to call again, an inspection report said.
It isn’t clear from the inspection report what the BBQ joint did about the cat.
Savute’s Italian Ristorante at 3303 N. Broadway told a inspector who found one living roach in a storage area that it also gets pest control treatments every two weeks. The inspector noted 13 violations during a March 14 survey.
Evidence of mice invading the kitchen of Quincy’s Bar and Grill, 2047 N. West St., on March 18 included “what appears to be a dead and decomposing mouse” behind a water heater, hundreds of rodent droppings and “a soft-ball size hole with chew marks in the wall,” according to an inspection report that noted eight violations.
Two out-of-compliance restaurants in March — Rain Cafe and Lounge at 518 E. Douglas and Fredo’s wine and tapas bar at 301 N. Washington — threw out liquor bottles that had dead insects inside, their inspection reports said.
And the Save-A-Lot discount supermarket at 2404 George Washington Blvd. on March 18 agreed to close its meat and produce departments after an inspector discovered water that was too cold running out of sinks there and in the bathrooms.
Store staff told the inspector it had been operating without hot water for about three weeks.
Under the state’s food safety rules, a business is supposed to “immediately discontinue operations and notify the regulatory authority” under a variety of circumstances including “extended interruption of electrical or water service” because of the health hazard risk, according to the inspection report.
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.