‘At least you didn’t eat all of it’ UK takeaway serves pizza with poison mouse droppings

The owner of a Plymouth, U.K. takeaway has been banned for life from serving food to the public after admitting selling a pizza contaminated with poisoned mouse droppings.

Judge Paul Darlow told Pervez Alvi (right, Plymouth Herald), "I would dearly like to hit you in the pocket" after hearing that investigating the case had cost Plymouth City Council more than £5,400.

But he imposed what he called "token costs" of £500 because of the "terrible" state of Alvi’s finances.

Prosecutor Julia Cox told Plymouth Crown Court that on March 20, 2010, a woman bought a pizza from Favourite Pizza as a treat for her son, who had just come out of hospital.

But as they ate it, they noticed "a strange chemical taste", which turned out to be caused by mouse droppings containing rodent poison.

The woman phoned the shop and Alvi called to see her, commenting: "At least you didn’t eat all of it."

He offered her £30 for the return of the pizza, but she refused and called Environmental Health.

Blue-green pellet-shaped objects in the pizza base were found to be mouse-droppings.
Inspectors attended the premises and immediately found mouse excrement in many areas, including on packaging materials and baking trays.

They also found gnawed cardboard and a hole in the skirting, while paperwork was incomplete.

He was told to clean and disinfect the premises and employ a pest controller, and next day things had greatly improved.

But a later visit found cracked tiles, a dirty hob and floor, and more mouse droppings under stainless-steel food-preparation surfaces and near a food chiller.

Cockroach toppings land pizza shop in court

Blaming the staff is never a good strategy.

But that’s exactly what the operator of a Domino’s pizza joint in Canberra, Australia, did while pleading guilty to four breaches of ACT food safety laws after cockroaches were repeatedly found on takeaway pizzas and pasta.

In an interview with authorities, the operator admitted the restaurant battled a cockroach problem for six months. He also accused staff of failing to follow the store’s cleaning regime and of falsifying completed cleaning records.

The prosecution has said three unrelated customers, on three separate occasions, raised the issue with ACT Health in April and May last year.

Documents tendered before Magistrate Grant Lalor yesterday revealed the restaurant was inspected three times in May after the customers complained of vermin in their food.

Authorities were first alerted to the infestation when a customer photographed a slice of barbecue chicken pizza containing a cockroach; another separate but similar complaint was made the next day.

The following month a public health officer inspected the Cape Street restaurant.

A statement of facts said the officer "found the premises to have a large number of non-compliant issues" and ordered pest control treatment take place within a week.

I make my own pizza.

Vac-paking pizzas also not for amateurs; Indiana Pizza King cited

Pizza King has been cited by the Delaware County Health Department for nine violations of sanitation requirements related to its vacuum-packed pizzas.

Two of the violations relate to the lack of a hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) food safety plan, which is required to prevent contamination that can lead to the growth of botulism and listeria bacteria in such packaging.

The violations occurred March 15 at 109 E. McGalliard Road, the only Pizza King site that ships vaccum-packed pizzas, which are partially baked and then frozen, to customers around the country and to other Pizza Kings, where they are sold as take-and-bake products.

Pizza King also was cited by the health department during an inspection nearly six months ago for the lack of a HACCP plan.

"They did in fact cite us in October (for the same violation)," said Pizza King official Jerry Riley. "They were going to, from our understanding, get back with us and show us how to do a HACCP plan, and they never did. So when we got this last one (violation), we got lined up with the federal people who inspect our commissary, and they are in the process of helping us put together the HACCP plan. So we will have it in no time at all. Keep in mind, all of the product we receive has a HACCP plan at the commissary."

Terry Troxell, food safety coordinator for the health department, said Pizza King needs a HACCP plan not only at its commissary in Anderson but also at the store in Muncie where the vacuum-packaging, also known as "reduced oxygen packaging," actually occurs.

"I told them I can help answer questions, but we are not in the business of making HACCP plans," Troxell said. "That’s not something we do. They need to do that. We are a regulatory agency. We do inspections. They never approached me with any questions or request for assistance."

Calling lasercats: Pennsylvania pizza owner accused of ‘food terrorism by mice,’ sabotaging rivals

A Pennsylvania pizza shop owner is in jail after he allegedly dumped live vermin in his competitors’ restaurants in a case cops are calling "food terrorism by mice."

Nikolas Galiatsatos, 47, who owns Nina’s Bella Pizzeria in Upper Darby walked into Verona Pizza, a few blocks away from his shop on Monday afternoon carrying a bag and asking to use the restroom.

When Fanis Facas, the owner of Verona’s, went to inspect the bathroom after hearing a banging noise, he discovered footprints on the toilet and a bag tucked into the ceiling. He turned the bag over to two officers that happened to be eating in the restaurant.

Cops suspected it was a possible drug deal, but instead of finding drugs in the bag, they found several mice, according to the Delaware County Daily Times.

Galiatsatos was then seen walking across the street to Uncle Nick’s Pizza. Cops said after he left the second pizza parlor they found another bag containing five living mice and one dead mouse in a trash can.

He was promptly arrested and now faces charges of criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, harassment and cruelty to animals.

Norovirus chef serves worm pizza to sick kids

U.K. chef Heston Blumenthal is attempting to ensure some children in hospital get their required intake of protein, by dishing up pizzas topped with deep fried worms.

Blumenthal’s interest in the children’s diets was sparked by a visit to Liverpool’s Alder Hey hospital where he noticed pizza on the menu.

“Thick dough and a thin layer of dried cheese and tomato on it, with potato waffles and baked beans. Where’s the protein?”

“The kids loved it,” Blumenthal said. “One kid didn’t like it. I’d injected one with ketchup. He said: ‘I don’t like that. It’s not the worm – I don’t like the ketchup’.”

Is there a protein shortage in the U.K.?

Cooking Pizza to 165F

As we all recover from the flu, our appetites are only mediocre. In the spirit of things, I cooked an Archer Farms spinach and goat cheese pizza for dinner tonight. I added olives because that’s one of the few things Sorenne currently loves. When looking at the cooking time and temp I noticed detailed directions that seem straight from this blog:

"For food safety, cook to an internal temperature of 165F as measured with a food thermometer.

Ovens vary: adjust baking time accordingly. Refrigerate or discard leftovers immediately."

This prompted me to play 100 questions with Doug, which he enjoys.

Me: "There’s no meat on this pizza. Is 165 the temperature for killing salmonella?" 

Doug: "Yes."

Me: "How do I put a thermometer in a pizza?"

Doug: "Do you think mere mortals know where to put it? Why don’t you try it?"

So I did (exactly as pictured). After cooking the pizza at 400F for about 18 minutes, I took it out and tried to eye the thickest part. Then I tried to put the thermometer in somewhat sideways being careful not to poke through the other side. To take the picture, I had to prop the thermometer on my spatula. The process made a big gash in my pizza toppings and the cheese stuck like glue on the thermometer, but it was easy to see the pizza was well above 165F.

The pizza was tasty but the outside crust overly crunchy and the inner crust still a bit soggy. Sorenne picked off the olives and ate them all, and I enjoyed a Boulevard Nutrcracker Seasonal Ale with mine. 

Dominos fined $120K over cockroaches, bad hygiene in Sydney

ABC News reports a Dominos pizza shop in Sydney’s west has been described as having committed one of the worst breaches of food safety and hygiene in the Australian state of New South Wales.

The store in Quakers Hill has been fined almost $120,000 after investigations by the state’s Food Authority, following reports from customers who suffered food poisoning.

Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan says conditions inside the store were appalling, stating,

"They had evidence of significant infestation of cockroaches and also very poor hygiene of cleanliness habits. I’m told by our experts at the Food Authority that they’re a prime candidate for spreading foodborne illnesses and that’s why they’ve been given such a big fine. There are always people who don’t do the right thing unfortunately and we need to make sure that we can protect people from foodborne illnesses. Things like food poisoning are not insignificant. There are people every year who die of food poisoning and food-related diseases."

Poop on pizza sickens 24 in Texas

KENS 5 news reports that a new investigator is looking into the sewage spill that forced a Leon Springs restaurant to close.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has taken over the investigation into how sewage found its way into the water well that supplies Fralo’s Art of Pizza.

At first, SAWS officials said no one was affected by the Aug. 19 overflow, but then 24 restaurant customers were sickened from E. coli.

Health department inspectors allowed Fralo’s to re-open this past weekend after water tests came back negative.

It’s still a mystery how the sewage got into the well.

Pizza in Naples cooked with wood from coffins: report

I went to Naples, Italy once. For a weekend. One of the weirdest meetings I ever attended.

But it was free. And all we did was eat and drink. Sorta like that Sopranos episode where Tony and Pauley and Chrissy go to Naples for business connections and to tour the old world.

The G7 economic summit was to be held in Naples in July, 1994. Someone had the bright idea that a scientist and a journalist from each of the G7 countries should go to Naples beforehand to have a G7-like summit on enhancing communications with cancer patients.

I was over a year into my PhD studies, and had been writing somewhat regularly on science stuff for the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto, someone got my name, organizers decided I could handle the scientist and journalist part, so I was off to Naples as the Canadian representative.

I remember everything vividly, probably because the trip was so short. Flight from Toronto to Rome, train to Naples, arrived Friday afternoon. Dinner with some of the others Friday night, first meeting Saturday morning. Five minutes in, and a couple of the Italians were posturing, giving sermons for a couple of hours. I looked befuddled, so the American and British representatives took pity, and one told me, “this is what they do.”

This was followed by a huge lunch, maybe two more hours of meetings, then an elaborate dinner at a restaurant on an island off the coast of Naples. A couple of hours of meetings in the morning, where me, the Americans and the Brits said, doctors should be honest with cancer patients and tell them what’s going on, while the reps from the other countries said, we can’t do that.

Another large lunch, airport, home.

I’d love to go back, and Italy is on the travel list for me and Amy and Sorenne now that Amy has entered sabbatical land. But I’m not sure about that Naples pizza.

The daily newspaper, Il Giornale, reported today that Italian prosecutors believe pizza in Naples may be baked in ovens lit with wood from coffins dug up in the local cemetery.

"Pizza, one of the few symbols of Naples that endures … is hit by the concrete suspicion that it could be baked with wood from coffins," Il Giornale said on Monday.

Investigators in Naples are setting their sights on the thousands of small, lower-end pizza shops and bakeries that dot the city on suspicion that the owners may "use wood from caskets to keep ovens burning."

According to tradition, Neapolitan pizza should be cooked in a stone oven with an oak-wood fire.

Italy’s estimated 25,000 pizzerias employ around 150,000 people and account for a turnover of 5.3 billion euros ($A7.4 billion).

I use a pizza stone and a gas oven, but the result ain’t bad. Homemade pizza dough, about 30 per cent semolina flour, and 35 per cent each of whole wheat and white flour with garlic and rosemary from the herb garden baked into the dough. Tonight’s creation was topped with canned tomato sauce (same as the stuff in glass, half the price), mushrooms, red pepper, yellow squash, asparagus, olives and mozzarella cheese. Sorenne liked it.

Note: No graves were desecrated in the making of this pizza.

Cora Pizza in Toronto shut down due to rat infestation

Cora Pizza, (the One Stop Pizza Shop), apparently a favorite of University of Toronto students, was shut down Dec. 21/09 by Toronto Public Health due to a rodent infestation and to prevent gross unsanitary conditions.

Among the findings were a bucket that was used for pizza sauce showing obvious "signs of contamination with dirt and mold” and "dead rats and rat droppings in the kitchen."

blogTO reported that previous inspections in March and June of this year found a long list of infractions, including failure to:

* ensure food is not contaminated/adulterated;

* use proper procedure(s) to ensure food safety;

* provide hand washing supplies; and,

* provide adequate pest control.

The Toronto Star reported that  this week’s discovery of rodents at a Spadina Ave. pizza shop and a bakery outlet at a subway station has put the spotlight on Toronto’s restaurant inspection program.

The pass-fail card system, in which a red card closes the eatery until problems are corrected, was set back by last summer’s 39-day civic workers’ strike and the fight against the H1N1 flu pandemic.

Inspectors have since been working hard to catch up.

Nearly every week in Toronto, an establishment is closed down temporarily for food safety infractions. There were 41 closures this year and 46 in 2008.

Those statistics indicate the city, which has some 16,000 restaurants, food stores and bakeries, is staying on top of the serious cases, said associate medical officer of health Dr. Howard Shapiro, who notes they inspect "probably a few hundred places a day."