Rodents and roaches and urine, oh my; contaminated chile ordered destroyed

A New Mexico company was ordered to destroy $171,000 worth of red chile after federal authorities say it was contaminated by rodent droppings and urine, insect larvae and roaches, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Deputy U.S. marshals seized 25 tons of Mexican-imported chile from the Duran and Sons warehouse in Derry, N.M. on Dec. 13, 2010. The imported pods are alleged to have contaminated 50 tons of New Mexican red chile that was also kept in the warehouse.

The company was ordered Monday by U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo to pay for destroying the produce under the supervision of the Food and Drug Administration, by no later than March 17.

Inspectors in November allegedly found rodent nests and evidence that mice had gnawed, defecated and urinated on the chile pods, ground chile and crushed chile after they had been shipped to the Duran & Sons Chile Products warehouse, about eight miles north of Hatch.

Apart from the chile, however, Duran’s warehouse was also allegedly home to "a live cat, live birds, apparent bird nesting, bird droppings, rodent nesting, rodent excreta pellets, animal feces, animal urine, lice and dead insects and insect larvae and moth-like insects," according to court documents.

Rodents have been here: Colorado school cafeteria inspections

Inspections of some Colorado school cafeterias in the last two years have turned up evidence of everything from rodents to fecal matter — issues that are considered "critical violations," according to local health departments.

Tom Butts of the Tri- County Health Department, told CBS4 school cafeterias, "in general they are some of our better operated facilities. They have lots of people watching them."

But that scrutiny doesn’t guarantee cleanliness.

At Denver’s South High School, a 2009 city inspection of the cafeteria revealed "evidence of rodents … in the facility. Rodent droppings are found in the dry storage along the walls on the floor."

South High School principal Steve Wera told CBS4 the problems have been addressed, adding, "We’ve made the appropriate changes. We can do better, we need to do better at this so I made sure we did."

Wera said since those problems were discovered the school brought in a new lunchroom manager and made other staff changes.

Australian baker faces fine over rodent trail, Listeria

A bakery owner in Adelaide faces a fine of up to $100,000 after being accused of continuing to sell food despite allegations of having rodents and a potentially deadly bacteria in his kitchen.

Tranh Minh Tran, of Kilburn, yesterday appeared in court charged with failing to comply with 19 conditions of the Australian and New Zealand Food Standard Code at his Woodville bakery.

The Port Adelaide Magistrates Court heard Tran is also facing charges of aggravated assault and carrying an offensive weapon amid allegations he threatened a Department of Health employee at his bakery last month.

The job of food inspector can really suck sometimes.

Adelaide Now reports that in court documents, the Port Adelaide Enfield Council alleges it immediately issued Tran with an order prohibiting him from continuing to sell food, but it was ignored.

It also alleges the inspectors also found rodent droppings and raw chicken stored at unsafe temperatures. Tran is accused of ignoring demands to employ a pest control company to rid the bakery of the rodents.

The council also alleges Tran was officially warned four times to clean his kitchen and comply with the food code, but failed to do so.

What should food service employees do if they see a mouse?

Tell someone. Call someone. Kill it.

Ignore it?


Pennsylvania lawmakers wanted to know the answer, and are prepared to legislate one if necessary after their cafeteria was shut down due to rodent problems.

As reported by the Patriot-News,

It might have been the most relevant question at Monday’s inquiry into the mouse infestation and other health problems that temporarily closed the state Capitol cafeteria:

Why didn’t cafeteria employees do something?

There was no direct answer.

The closest came from Bruce Walton, vice president for operations for Aramark, Inc., which runs the cafeteria.

He said "leadership changes" have been made, and Aramark is trying to create an "environment of care" in which Capitol cafeteria employees take a proactive approach to quality matters.

Yet the answer to that question — whatever it is — might prove central to the decision of whether Pennsylvania gets a tougher restaurant law.


Belfast restaurant sorry after rodent runs past diners

A top French restaurant in Belfast has apologized after a rodent was spotted running amok on the premises.

A complaint was lodged with Belfast City Council’s public health department yesterday after a group of diners claimed they spotted a rat in the restaurant on Monday night.
Timothy Kirkpatrick said,

“At one stage the rat sat on top of a woman’s handbag for a good 10 to 20 seconds. I couldn’t believe it, I don’t think anyone could.”

Mr Kirkpatrick said he was very disappointed in the way the restaurant handled the situation.

“The staff tried to catch it and continued to serve food,” he added. “It was quite unbelievable, to be honest.

“They didn’t apologize or offer to waive the cheque or anything. At the time I didn’t mind, but the more I think about it now it is just ridiculous.”

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."

KATIE FILION: Rodents run amuck at Toronto Loblaw’s

A Loblaw’s Supermarket in Toronto, Canada, is closed following a customer complaint regarding a mouse inside the store.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) officials closed the store last night, and already Dinesafe, a website designed to disclose inspection results for food premises in the Toronto area, has updated its most recent inspection findings to include infractions discovered last night, such as:

•    failure to ensure food is not contaminated/adulterated;
•    failure to prevent rodent infestation; and,
•    failure to maintain hazardous food(s) at 4C (40F).

According to Dinesafe, the Dupont St. Loblaw’s has passed the last ten TPH inspections, dating back to April 2007.  But are restaurant inspections a good indicator of the quality of an establishment? Or simply a brief snapshot of a food premise at one point in time? And are web-based disclosure systems like Dinesafe the most effective way to communicate inspection results to consumers?

News reports like the ones in the Toronto Sun or Globe and Mail, websites like Dinesafe, and blogs like this or blogTO, get the information out there to consumers. What I am interested in is which of these methods is the most effective.

How to control squirrels in the UK? Eat ’em.

I’m always open to trying new foods, but I don’t know if I’m all that interested in eating squirrel.  Sure they’re terribly cute with their little hands and bright eyes, but I can’t help but wonder what kinds of diseases they carry.  In terms of food I’ve always thought squirrel was more of a roadkill dish.

The Brtis sure don’t agree with my opinion of the squirrel.  There is a booming industry for squirrel meat in the UK, and the public cannot get enough of it.  In farmers’ markets, butcher shops, village pubs and elegant restaurants, squirrel is selling as fast as gamekeepers and hunters can bring it in.  It’s not just a matter of eating something trendy, culling squirrels has become a necessity with the red squirrel population being pushed out by the gray squirrels.

“The situation is more than simply a matter of having too many squirrels. In fact, there is a war raging in Squirreltown: invading interlopers (gray squirrels introduced from North America over the past century or more) are crowding out a British icon, the indigenous red squirrel immortalized by Beatrix Potter and cherished by generations since. The grays take over the reds’ habitat, eat voraciously and harbor a virus named squirrel parapox (harmless to humans) that does not harm grays but can devastate reds. (Reports indicate, though, that the reds are developing resistance.)

The “Save Our Squirrels” campaign began in 2006 to rescue Britain’s red squirrels by piquing the nation’s appetite for their marauding North American cousins. With a rallying motto of “Save a red, eat a gray!” the campaign created a market for culled squirrel meat.”

Though squirrel has been promoted as a low-fat food, discrepancies have been found in meat quality.  Nichola Fletcher, a food writer and co-owner of a venison farm, said that in her experience, “the quality and amount of fat varied from no visible fat to about 30 percent, depending on the season, their age and, especially, diet.”  I guess there’s no USDA grading system for squirrels. Though there don’t seem to be written standards in preparing a squirrel dish, food safety standards, such as handwashing and cooking meat thoroughly, should always be a top priority when preparing a meal.

“If you want to grab your shotgun, make sure you have very good aim — squirrels must be shot in the head; a body shot renders them impossible to skin or eat. (You want to get rid of the head in any event, as squirrel brains have been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease.)”

For those interested in trying squirrel, recipes can be found here and here.