Everyone’s got a camera: NYC-market-worker-boot-on-fish edition

Ciara McCarthy of Patch reports a Chinatown fish market has become the latest Internet sensation. A video filmed by a customer shows a worker climbing on a tray of fish, apparently to reach an electrical box. His boots are seen on top of the fresh produce.

The video was shot at the Hung Fee Food Market, located at 214 Canal St., on Jan. 3 and uploaded to Facebook the next day by April Davidson, she told Patch in a message. It had been viewed nearly 180,000 times as of Tuesday.

“Seriously, seriously, you’re gonna stand there on the food with your boots?” Davidson can be heard asking in the video.

The footage has garnered thousands of shares on Facebook and has spurred hundreds of Yelp reviewers to leave negative comments on the market’s page.

A woman who answered the phone at the fish market said she didn’t speak English and there wasn’t anyone available to comment.

An employee at the store told Pix 11 that the man had been called in to fix an emergency electrical problem and said that all the fish that were stepped on were thrown out before they could be sold.

The New York Department of Agriculture and Markets found “critical deficiencies” at the food market after conducting a review on Monday, spokeswoman Lisa Koumjian told Patch. The state agency dispatched a food safety inspector after seeing the video.

The Hung Kee Food Market was assigned a “C” grade for its sanitary conditions, Koumjian said. The state will conduct a follow-up inspection at the market in the near future. 

“The food safety inspector also addressed the consumer complaint regarding an individual standing on fresh fish,” Koumjian said in a statement.

“Management stated that a contractor, who was hired to repair an emergency electrical issue, stood directly on a fish display to access the electrical panel. Management has since instructed employees on proper access for electrical panels without jeopardizing product integrity and wholesomeness.”

Some Yelp reviewers came to the shop’s defense in the wake of the internet backlash. 

One man, who identified himself on Yelp as “Sailor J.” wrote, “Ok, I’ve been on the ocean for 30+ years… Have ANY of you freaksouts (who’ve likely never even been to this market) ever seen the deck of a typical commercial fishing boat when operating in full gear?” he wrote in his review. “The bottom of this guys shoes is, by far, not the nastiest thing these fish have touched.”

Wendy’s meltdown in NYC?

An astute reader from Manhattan (New York, not Kansas) notes that a Wendy’s restaurant in at 335 Fifth Ave, in the shadow of the Empire State Building, was Wendys Fifth Ave Closed 091715bclosed back in mid-Sept.

He writes: “What struck me was the sign saying the ‘supply’ (I guess that means food) was being moved to a ‘safer’ location (and not to a ‘safe’ location). Hmmm. And how hot was the food before it was moved to a ‘safer’ location?”

Wendys Fifth Ave Closed 091715a

NYC letter grades on plates? They’re flying off shelves but city wants an 8% cut

Church, mafia, university: everyone takes a cut, and there are fewer people to actually create (some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen).

Fishs Eddy.restaurant.gradeAccording to the Daily Mail, a popular Manhattan housewares store has been forced to pay 8 per cent in royalties to New York City on all sales of its new Health Grade merchandise.

The city’s Health Department called Fishs Eddy ‘immediately’ after the line of trays and towels were launched, which are based on the city’s infamous restaurant letter grades.

‘They didn’t threaten us, but they made it clear we should be working with them,’ Fishs Eddy owner Julie Gaines told the New York Daily News. ‘I wasn’t seeking the collaboration. But people love the trays.’

The ‘A’ and ‘B’ grade items, priced at $9.95 to $16.95, are inspired by the restaurant letter grades instituted under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

NYC Salmonella cases rise in 2012 despite restaurant letter grades

Restaurant inspection grades do not reduce rates of foodborne illness – not in any scientifically credible and measurable manner.

Publicly available grades, like the A, B, C of LA and New York City, or the red, yellow, green of Toronto do increase public restaurant.inspection.la.porn.mar.13awareness and discussion of food safety, enhancing the overall food safety culture for staff and patrons.

I understand the desire to say, hey, this program made fewer people sick, but we’re not there yet, so why overstate when it will only lead to disappointment (also valid in budget estimates and personal relationships, and pretty much everything).

The International Business Times reports New York restaurant-goers are eating up the city’s three-year-old grading system, but its effect on public health is still a bit of a mystery taste test.

Salmonella infections in New York City rose more than 4 percent in 2012 to 1,168 cases, up from 1,121 cases the year before, according to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The uptick follows a much-publicized 14 percent decline in salmonella infections in 2011, the first full year that the letter grades were implemented. City officials had touted the initial decline as an early sign that the letter-grade posting may be contributing to a reduction in foodborne illnesses.

According to city health officials, the annual number of salmonella infections is a useful indicator of trends in food-related illnesses: Salmonella cases occur relatively frequently and about 95 percent of them are believed to be caused by eating contaminated food.

New York’s letter-grading system — in which restaurants are required to display a large A, B or C grade in the window of their establishment — was instituted in July 2010. Since that time, the qr.code.rest.inspection.gradeHealth Department has published a progress report every six months, updating New Yorkers on the system’s effectiveness. But those reports stopped coming after 18 months: the last one was published in January 2012.

Asked why the reports stopped, the Health Department told International Business Times that city officials “continue to evaluate the letter-grading initiative and are looking at the impact of the improved inspectional program on restaurants and on hospitalizations and emergency visits for foodborne illnesses.”

While popular with the public, the grading system has been described as unnecessarily burdensome and even humiliating by restaurant owners and food handlers who complain of steep fines, arbitrary inspections and bloated hearings procedures.

Patti Jackson, a veteran New York chef, said, “The grades are punitive and silly, but I don’t think they’re the worst thing that’s ever happened. They’re just a giant throbbing pain in the ass.”

Maybe. Or maybe the grades hold people a little more accountable. How best to improve the system?

Glaser’s Bake Shop in NYC closed after city inspection shows ‘severe vermin infestation’

Health inspectors have shuttered a beloved century-old German bakery in New York City after spotting a “severe vermin infestation” during a surprise visit Friday.

Glaser’s Bake Shop, which previously boasted an “A” rating, will not reopen at First Avenue and East 87th Street until after the holidays, angry glasers-bake-shop-black-and-white-cookieowners told The Post.

“This is our busiest time of the year, and our food is going to waste!” fumed Tom Glaser, who runs the shop. He claimed that city bureaucrats are bilking him out of would-be holiday profits simply because a neighbor with a grudge filed an anonymous complaint.

But a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Health said workers racked up several other violations, including failing to wear gloves and hairnets while handling food.

The abrupt closing irked regulars, some of whom placed pastry orders for holiday cakes long ago and now won’t be able to enjoy their treats.

Popular NYC kosher restaurant Taam-Tov shut down by health department

Taam-Tov, the popular Diamond District kosher eatery, was shut down by the New York City Health Department after inspectors found a glut of violations Oct. 11.

DNA info reports the Russian-kosher joint at 41 W. 47th St., known for its inexpensive offerings such as stuffed cabbage leaves, kebabs and beef-filled pastries, was found to have 55 violation points, according to the Health Department. The restaurant’s employees were scooping up food with their bare hands and not covering food when moving it, inspectors found. Inspectors also found evidence of live mice in the restaurant, along with roaches in food areas. The restaurant has long been praised by seasoned food critics and regular Midtown lunch-hunters alike. In 2007, The New York Times called it “the best deal on a street where you can end up spending a fortune.”

This isn’t Taam-Tov’s first brush with trouble during a Health Department inspection. In Jan. 2011, it racked up 93 violation points for not refrigerating its cold food and lack of a proper hand-washing facility. Phone calls to the restaurant were not immediately returned Tuesday.

Hot New York pizzeria Don Antonio closed by health dept

 A new New York pizzeria, Don Antonio, has already been shuttered by the Dept. of Health.

Eater reports a tipster spotted the yellow sign on the door yesterday, and when an Eater operative went by to snap a pic of the exterior, the management freaked out and said they’d call the cops.

The information from yesterday’s inspection isn’t up on the DOH site yet, but in March, an inspector found 22 violation points (enough for a B-Grade), including two critical violations: cold food held above 41º F, and evidence of mice or vermin. Don Antonio currently does not have a letter grade.

An employee at the restaurant said they hoped to get the restaurant open by tomorrow or Friday.

Fancy food isn’t safe food: Ritz-Carlton edition

Jen Chung of The Gothamist writes that if you’re spending $14 on soup or $10 on a side of spinach (let’s not get into the $47 veal chop), you’d probably hope that the restaurant would have a New York City Department of Health Restaurant Inspection grade of A.

The BLT Market restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South, is a C-venue—thanks to violations like "Hot food item not held at or above 140º F" and "Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.

The New York Post, which has the lede, "The Ritz is the pits, as far as the city’s Health Department is concerned," reports that the restaurant’s C-grade is "barely visible" in the window (not surprising!) and spoke to potential diners who seemed turned off (right, photo from Post). A tourist said, "We do like to go to upscale restaurants when we’re here, but I don’t expect that type of grade from a restaurant of this level of quality. It taints it. No, I won’t be going.”

Manager Scott Geraghty was apologetic to the Post, “More than anything, we care about our guests and customer. The Health Department came in a while ago, and we took all their suggestions and made all the improvements, and now we’re just waiting for them to come back… It’s sort of a mystery, they come when they come."

BLT Market had 67 points in June and 42 points in March, which suggests that the restaurant got a C back in March and when inspectors came back three months later, it really bombed.