Photo: Contributed / Michael P. Walsh – City Of West Haven
WEST HAVEN — Raw fish being improperly thawed, insects in rice, inadequately cooked meatballs and mice eating through packages are among the health violations found at city restaurants and other establishments that carry food, recent inspection reports show.
Eight establishments — including restaurants, a convenience store and a daycare — failed the most recent inspections in their categories that dictate the number of times they are inspected per year, said the city Chief Sanitarian Luci Bango.
Bango provided most recent inspections in the categories, some of which are inspected every six, three or four months, or once a year.
Per state Department of Health regulations, any establishment fails if it receives lower than a score of 80 out of 100 or if it receives a “four-point” violation, as those are the most serious in terms of risk for food-borne illness.
In the West Haven cases, all the establishments quickly met with a passing grade upon re-inspection, with some of those re-inspections happening on the spot by businesses correcting four-point violations immediately, Bango said.
There are two inspectors in West Haven for close to 300 establishments.
Food establishments in the various categories that failed for various reasons during an unannounced visit in West Haven, include:
The iconic Jimmie’s of Savin Rock restaurant at 5 Rock St., with waterfront seating, failed for several violations during a Jan. 14 inspection, including a four-point violation for “toxic items improperly stored, labeled or used.”
Some of the specific violations, according to an inspection report, include: chipped or cracked wooden salad bowls that Bango said could cause materials to get into food; a bucket of driveway sealant with coffee stored on top; rusty shelves in a cooler, foods unlabeled in a walk-in unit; broken kitchen floor tiles; water-stained ceiling tiles in storage room; raw beef stored above soups that Bango said could leak into food. The restaurant received a score of 86 and fixed the four-point violation on the spot, negating the need for a new reinspection score.
At Jimmie’s Tuesday, a woman who identified herself as the manager, but declined to give her name — even when a reporter called her back after an abrupt telephone hang up, said if anything needs fixing at the restaurant during inspection, it gets fixed on the spot.
She then said, “Have a nice day” and hung up the phone. When called back for her name, the woman said, “We don’t give names. I’m one of the managers working here.”
The Elm Diner at 111 Elm St. had numerous violations and failed an inspection on Nov. 29, 2018, with a score of 79.
Those violations included a four-point demerit under “approved source, wholesome, unadulterated food.”
The diner also received points off the inspection for uncovered and unlabeled food items; food contacting the surface of a microwave; silverware being preset on tables; an unclean kitchen floor; having no waste bin at a handwashing sink; scattered boxes; inadequate water temperatures; dented cans; mop and broom not properly hung; problems with clean wiping cloths.
After a reinspection on Jan. 31, the diner got a score of 90.
The owner of the diner, who identified himself as Sonny Saini, said there were only a few violations, and “We fixed all those things.”
The take-out eatery at 818 First Ave. failed inspection Jan. 3 but passed a reinspection Jan. 17.
The Chinese eatery failed with a 78 for numerous health code violations, including the improper thawing of raw fish; uncovered food items; improper labeling; improper disposal of waste water; improper storage and disposal of garbage/rubbish; and build-up of ice in a machine. The restaurant received a reinspection score of 91.
Owner Yang Yang said Tuesday that all the violations had been corrected.
“It’s very clean,” he said of his restaurant.
Sweet Relief Catering
An inspection was done in December 2018 and the catering company at 224 Campbell Ave. received a 92, but failed because of a four-point violation under the toxic chemicals category for sanitizer concentration exceeding the maximum amount permitted. The company did not receive a reinspection because it fixed the four-point violation on the spot, health officials said.
The catering company also received points off for unlabeled food and improperly stored linens. An inspector also noted on the report that there was no hot water and that a small fire had been extinguished with salt, although neither resulted in points off the score.
Owner Eric Rogers said he’s been in business for 20 years and usually scores high on inspections without any serious four-pointers, but “every once in a while” there may be something isolated that gets by.
“They’re here to help everybody,” Rogers said of the health department. “They want to make sure no one gets hurt.”
In reference to Bango, he added, “We love Luci.”
The chain daycare and learning center at 221 Bull Hill Lane received a failing grade Jan. 10 for inadequate temperatures during storage and preparation of food and “adequate facilities to maintain product temperature.”
The first was a four-point violation that automatically failed the center, although its overall score was 94. There is no reinspection score because the center corrected the four-point violation on the spot, health officials said.
A spokeswoman from Tutor Time’s parent company, Lydia Cisaruk, said in an email that “The safety and wellbeing of our children and staff is of the utmost importance to us.”
She said a cooler at the facility is being serviced “to ensure it functions properly,” and other equipment is being used in the interim.
“We’re committed to meeting or exceeding all applicable state and local regulations,” she said in the email.
The Subway at 502 Saw Mill Road, in a category of places less frequently inspected, scored a 93 during the inspection in August 2018, but failed because of a four-point violation for not heating meatballs to a high enough temperature of 165 degrees before putting them in a steamer, health records show.
The restaurant also received points off for not clearly labeling a spray bottle and not having thermometers in sandwich units. It did not receive a new inspection score because it fixed the four-point violation on the spot, health officials said.
Subway World Headquarters provided the following statement, which they said was from the two franchise owners:
“We are committed to the highest food safety standards at our Subway restaurant. We took immediate steps to resolve the issue as soon as it was brought to our attention and the restaurant passed its reinspection. Along with Health Department inspections, the brand conducts regular inspections that are aimed at ensuring that our high food safety and cleanliness standards are met.”
In a July 2018 inspection — considered recent because it is in the less frequently inspected category — the convenience store at 191 Platt Ave. had a four-point violation for not having approved sources of some food, health records show. It was also ordered to get an exterminator because mice had eaten through packages of food and there were mouse droppings found in Hostess boxes, according to the inspection report.
The Krauszer’s also received points off for an unclean milk dispenser; not having paper towels in the restroom; using cups for sugar instead of scoops with handles; having an unclean floor under walk-in shelves and unclean shelves in the walk-in that were moldy. The store received a score of 85 and corrected the four-point violation on the spot, health records show.
Two messages were left for the owner over two days seeking comment but the calls were not returned.
Sonassa Afrimart, also in the not frequently inspected category, failed inspection in its last round done in May 2018. The store at 181 Boston Post Road, which sells mostly non-food items, received a four-point violation in the sources of food category and another violation for bags of pre-packaged rice that also contained insects, inspection records show. That was corrected by throwing away the food, Bango said. The store received points off for not labeling all food.
Afrimart Sonassa’s score was 93 and the store corrected the four-point violation on the spot, health officials said.
The Register tried to call the store for two days, but the number appears to be out of service.