Food safety and lodging inspectors who visited local grocers last month found black mold dripping on ice used to keep seafood cold, a cockroach “crawling all over” a preparation table and thousands of rodent droppings in a Wichita dollar store, including on snack and chip shelves.
Thirty Sedgwick County food establishments that process, serve or sell food like restaurants, and businesses that charge for sleeping accommodations like hotels and motels were out of compliance when inspected by the Kansas Department of Agriculture in November, according to inspection results posted on the agency’s website. Not all businesses that have food safety violations are considered out of compliance.
Among 17 violations noted at Asian grocer Lucky Market, 7100 E. Harry in Wichita, on Nov. 27 were “colored, old moldy food debris along the inside portion” of saws used to cut meat and fish and “an excessive build up of black mold along the upper inside portion of the ice unit.”
The mold “was dripping down in icicles over the ice” used on self-service fish and shrimp, according to an inspection report.
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An inspector also saw a live cockroach running across a table in the store’s back preparation area, the report says.
Most of the problems were corrected on site by staff. As far as the cockroach goes, the person in charge of the store cleaned and sanitized the table and told the inspector that Lucky Market does its own pest control.
A Family Dollar Store a few miles to the north has its own pest problems, a Nov. 26 inspection report shows.
An inspector who was in the 13th and Oliver location in response to a complaint noted that the “entire pet aisle of facility has 1000’s of rodent droppings on pet food, supplies and toys shelves” and that the store had taped up kitty litter bags “that appear to be torn open by rodents.”
The inspector also saw hundreds of pieces of rodent excrement near bottled water and boxed Christmas gifts and on snack and chip shelves.
“The facility needs to do a deep clean to get all areas and entire store free of rodent urine and droppings,” the inspector wrote, adding that an exterminator visits the store daily according to its manager and that holes in the outside walls “have been filled to prevent rodent or pest entry.”
The exterminator was catching between 18 and nine mice in traps at the store a day, the inspector noted.
During a follow-up visit that took place Monday, the inspector “did not see any live or dead rodents” and noted that the store is “getting daily visits from Terminex and will continue until all pests are trapped and removed,” that inspection report, dated Dec. 10, says.
The Wichita Eagle curates a searchable database of non-compliant inspections that come out of Sedgwick County each month. 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 30 establishments in November.
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, which are issues that could lead to problems preventing food-borne illnesses. Both types are considered critical violations.
Any problem that isn’t or can’t be corrected on site in front of the inspector also makes a business out of compliance. 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 — problems that aren’t considered to be critical and don’t affect a business’ compliance.
How to complain about conditions
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.
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. The results are public record.
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.
You can learn more about Kansas’ lodging and food safety laws here.