Faith-based food safety: Unlicensed California food service fined after illnesses

AP News reports an unlicensed food delivery service in the Sacramento area has been fined more than $100,000 after several customers were sickened.

The owner of Anna’s Kitchen “repeatedly delivered hundreds of meals that had not been kept properly hot or cold for extended periods of time, increasing the likelihood of foodborne illness,” the Yolo County district attorney’s office said in a statement Monday.

The business used the popular Chinese app WeChat to market its homemade Chinese food to Chinese foreign exchange students at the University of California, Davis, authorities said.

A health investigation began after several students reported becoming sick.

The business owner, Xin Jiang, agreed to settle a civil enforcement action by paying nearly $107,000 in costs and penalties. The agreement was approved by a judge last month.

Jiang admitted wrongdoing and is no longer operating Anna’s Kitchen but he could face another $90,000 in penalties if he reopens it or is found selling any type of food without a valid county permit, the DA’s office said.

Australia’s food safety system falls well short

Adele Ferguson of The Age writes that food safety is again in the headlines following an investigation into the Grill’d burger chain.

The long list of food safety transgressions at hamburger chain Grill’d outlined in a series of leaked internal food and safety audit reports, internal documents, a council report, and dozens of photos from staff, triggered a social media backlash.

In an attempt to dilute the public’s disgust Grill’d announced it would hire a global food auditor to review its food safety and work practices.

But in the process of exposing the worker exploitation and uncleanliness scandal it became clear there was another scandal that has been festering away: an overall lack of enforcement by the relevant authorities of food hygiene regulations and fines that are so low they fail to act as a deterrent.

Take for instance, Grill’d in Windsor, Victoria, the local council, Stonnington, issued an inspection notice of “major non-compliance” in October 2018. It said it didn’t have effective cleaning systems in place, which is the basic requirement of any restaurant.

What was even more disturbing was the council admitting that the same non-compliances were happening every year and that “infringement notices may be issued if this continues”.

In other words, the council’s inspection notice and wishy-washy threats were ineffectual.

This was no better demonstrated in early December when a photo was taken and posted on The Age and Sydney Morning Herald websites of a mouse inside a tray of hamburger buns sitting on the floor at Grill’d in Windsor.

The council’s reaction was to keep the public in the dark. It refused to say how many years of non-compliance it had recorded at the Grill’d Windsor restaurant and its only reaction to the buns stored on the floor, which attracted a mouse in the pest infested restaurant, was that it would act if someone lodged a complaint.

On a broader level, it illustrates shortcomings in the food safety system in Australia. It seems the public only get to know what’s going on when it is too late.

The Victorian Health register of convictions of food safety is an eye-opener. In 2019 only a few cases went to court and received a conviction, which attracted a minuscule fine.

The laws may be strict but if they aren’t properly monitored and enforced then things fall apart.

Everyone’s got a camera: Boston Dunkin’ edition

Dunkin’ is no Tim Hortons.

The Boston Inspectional Services Department said an East Boston Dunkin’ location has closed after video captured what appears to be mice running around inside.

The video shows the rodents scurrying around the floor of the Maverick Square Dunkin’ while the store was closed late Monday night.

“[Tuesday], the Inspectional Services Department launched an investigation into the complaints and video of rodent infestation at the Dunkin’ located at 13 Maverick St. in East Boston,” the city agency said in a statement. “After reviewing the video, an inspector was immediately dispatched to the location to conduct a full compliance inspection of the establishment.”

“The health and safety of customers is our top priority,” Dunkin’ said in a statement. “We take this matter very seriously, and upon learning of the issue, the restaurant was immediately closed.”

Uh-huh.

Nice handle: Butter Me Up café prosecuted for food safety offences

Bristol News reports employees at a Bishopsworth café have been fined for food hygiene offences after pleading guilty to a string of safety standards breaches.

Laura West and Donna Flanagan, who were running the small Butter Me Up premises at Highridge Road, were also ordered to pay totals including prosecution costs of £2,937 and £2,855 respectively at Bristol Crown Court last week after pleading guilty to a number of offences at an earlier hearing.

The pair were also given an open-ended Hygiene Prohibition Order, banning them from participating in the management of any food business which, if breached, amounts to a criminal offence which could lead to a prison sentence.

Environmental Health officers from Bristol City Council launched an immediate investigation and visited the café in July 2018, having been alerted to the death of an elderly gentleman from suspected food poisoning after he and a friend were hospitalised.

Officers discovered that the business had been operating since November 2015 but had not registered with the Council since it opened. The café was also displaying a food safety sticker with a rating of 5, the highest rating, which belonged to a previous business at the same address.

Environmental health officers noted a range of further food safety offences, including little to no food hygiene and safety training, no written food safety management, poor pest control and lack of reliable disinfection practices. Environmental swabs and a cloth that had been used for handling equipment showed that food poisoning bacteria were widespread throughout the premises, indicating poor cleaning practices.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: What US delivery drivers grub on food orders before you get them

CBS Local reports that with food delivery platforms like Uber Eats, GrubHub and Postmates bursting at the seams, we wanted to know what some delivery people were doing with your food before you took a bite.

One food delivery driver – whose identity is concealed – told CBSLA’s David Goldstein he’s heard drivers talk about helping themselves to your order.

“Taking sips of soda all the time….sticking a straw in it and drinking it and putting another top on it,” he said.

So Goldstein’s team set up hidden cameras in restaurants and watched as food delivery people came to pick up – many of whom walked out with open bags where they can easily taste your food.

Cameras caught one man pick up a delivery order at a Fatburger restaurant in North Hollywood. After he put the bag on the front seat of his car, he proceeded to eat what looks like French fries.

As he backs out, he appears to put another fry into his mouth.

He proceeded to make two deliveries within minutes. On the first, the driver was seen wiping his fingers on his leg and then appears to lick them clean in his mouth.

The second delivery was the Fatburger order to a house in North Hollywood.

Goldstein then showed the video to Naimie Ojeil, who said the order was for his teenage kids.

“Horrible, disgusting,” he said.

When Goldstein confronted the driver at a later date, he didn’t have much to say.

Cameras caught another driver pick up a delivery, placing the bag on the passenger seat in his car, and then a minute or so later, he moves the bag, puts his hand inside and grab some fries before he drives away.

Pennsylvania restaurant trying to repair sewage pipe leak with duct tape

Department of Agriculture inspectors this week found a restaurant trying to repair a sewage pipe leak with duct tape.

A complaint was filed at U.S. 30 Diner on West Market Street in York and the inspector found 24 violations. The inspector found a sewage back-up in the basement piping system. One of the pipes was leaking and the facility was using duct tape as a repair. The inspector also says food employees were wearing soiled garments, and personal medication was found on a shelf with food. They say the entire food facility was extremely dirty with old food, trash, and dirt. The inspector also found a dog leash. The person in charge acknowledged that he brings his dog into the rear of the food facility, according to the report.

Chicago looks back on restaurant inspection

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) conducts routine food inspections of over 15,000 food establishments to ensure the health and safety of their patrons.

In 2015, CDPH deployed a machine learning model to schedule inspections of establishments based on their likelihood to commit critical food code violations.

The City of Chicago released the training data and source code for the model, allowing anyone to examine the model. We provide the first independent analysis of the model, the data, the predictor variables, the performance metrics, and the underlying assumptions. We present a summary of our findings, share lessons learned, and make recommendations to address some of the issues our analysis unearthed.

Hindsight analysis of the Chicago food inspection forecasting model, 2019

Illinois Institute of Technology

Vinesh Kannan, Matthew Shapiro, and Mustafa Bilgic

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1910.04906.pdf

Everyone’s got a camera: Netherlands café edition

Janene Pieters of the NL Times reports a video of a mouse munching on a crepe in an Amsterdam cafe, resulted in the business being ordered closed by the Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA. The video was posted on Twitter on Wednesday. NVWA inspectors went to inspect the cafe and found more vermin. Which is why the cafe was ordered closed, RTL Nieuws reports.

“The business can only be reopened if the entrepreneur has thoroughly cleaned everything up and has taken measures to prevent vermin”, the NVWA said. All food supplies currently in the store must also be discarded. The situation in the cafe was unsafe and a public health hazard, an NVWA spokesperson said to the broadcaster.

The NVWA is pleased that consumers report when they see vermin in shops or catering establishments. “With or without a video we take these kinds of complaints seriously. Mice are a direct threat to food safety.”

Most sushi producers in Ireland fail to meet food safety standards

I don’t like sushi and don’t eat it, especially the real kind with raw fish.

Andrew Lowth of Spin 1038 reports that checks have found almost every sushi maker and seller in Ireland has failed to meet food safety standards.

Of eleven manufacturers, restaurants and takeaways inspected, just one hadn’t broken food hygiene laws.

The Food Safety Authority found 76 breaches of food law, including poor parasite control and incorrect defrosting of raw fish.

The audit findings also include:

90% of food businesses audited did not have adequate controls in place relating to sushi production and processing activities

75% of food businesses did not meet the requirements of the legislation for  freezing fish for parasite control

Over 90% of the food businesses did not have adequate operational controls for sushi rice production

“Our audit sought to establish if food safety controls were being followed and the findings are very concerning,” says FSAI CEO Pamela Byrne.

“It showed that over three quarters of the food businesses did not have adequate food safety controls in place for this.”

Everybody has a camera: Colorado restaurant with rat edition

Evan Kruegel of Fox 31 reports a Denver restaurant with previous food safety violations is once again being inspected after a video surfaced showing a rat inside the restaurant.

Dominic Trujillo says he took the video on Sept.16, while waiting for Mt. Fuji Sushi & Hibachi to open. The video appears to show a rat eating food scraps between the glass and a window shade at the restaurant off of East Sixth Avenue in Capitol Hill.

He posted the video on social media and says a manager sent him a private message, offering a gift card in exchange for taking the video down.

The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment visited the restaurant Wednesday after seeing the video and found no violations.

“Yesterday we had the health department come and they checked everything, inspected everything, and everything looks fine,” said Osa Enebish, with the restaurant. “Our back door — it was left open and we fixed that door, so it might have came through that door, we don’t know.”

In February, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment found 12 critical health code issues at Mt. Fuji, including rodent droppings found in storage cabinets.