Month-old olive loaf for sale, a mysterious black speck in a sugar bin and motels with bed bugs were among violations noted during food safety and lodging inspections at Sedgwick County businesses last month.
Twenty-five Wichita area food establishments (restaurants, gas stations and schools) and businesses that charge for sleeping accommodations (hotels and motels) were out of compliance when inspected by the Kansas Department of Agriculture in December, according to inspection results posted on the agency’s website. Not all businesses that have violations are considered out of compliance.
Several restaurants were caught storing or serving food that had been open for more than a week, which is against policy.
El Papa Pollo, 808 W. 25th St. N., had to throw out salsa and refried beans that were two weeks old; the IHOP at 11855 E. Kellogg tossed moldy Parmesan cheese and undated mashed potatoes that no one knew when were cooked; and Fetch Bistro, 7718 E. 37th St. N., trashed Italian sub meat, salami, ham and some gravy that were nine days old.
The owner of Yoder Meats, 798 N. West St., discarded several types of sliced meats deemed too old to sell by inspectors — including an olive loaf that had been opened for over a month and beef bologna that was close to three weeks old.
Over at Dragon City Chinese Restaurant, 3008 W. Central Ave., an inspector spotted “an unknown black particle, approximately one quarter of an inch wide” in the bulk sugar bin kept in the building’s basement on Dec. 10. An employee scooped it out. The inspector considered that correcting the problem.
Meanwhile, on the lodging side, rooms at the English Village Inn, 6727 E. Kellogg, and at the Heritage Inn of Wichita, 4539 S. Broadway, had to be closed after inspectors discovered evidence of bed bugs on mattresses. The rooms are not supposed to be rented out again until they’re treated by licensed pest control people and are checked during a follow-up inspection.
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.