Dirty Dining: Inspections reveal restaurant food, cleanliness violations

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The Marion County Public Health Department performs unannounced inspections of restaurants and other establishments to ensure your safety, and often there are repeat critical violation offenders that are also fined. Fox 59 took a look at the latest businesses on the list.

Violations have been found at the Waffle House at 2621 South Lynhurst Drive since July 31. The most recent inspection reveals several violations that are considered critical by the health department. A report details a situation where an employee handled raw bacon and raw sausage, then put on gloves and handled raw eggs and toast.

Another employee was also spotted putting on gloves without washing their hands, and an inspector found ham at an unacceptable temperature inside and on top of a cooler inside the restaurant. Cheese was also thrown out.

“We’re not trying to kill anybody,” said the Waffle House manager. He continued. “It wasn’t, hey, we don’t care.”

He also said the female employee who had been handling the raw and cooked foods without washing her hands no longer works in the restaurant.

La Hacienda on 6429 East Washington Street has received repeated violations since Aug. 15. An inspector found live cockroaches in the bar area that he said was an ongoing violation. He also recommended increasing the frequency of pest control services until the pest problem can be corrected.

An employee was also seen wiping his gloved hands on his apron when they were soiled. All restaurant workers are to wash their hands and exposed areas of their arms after contamination occurs. Soiled gloves are also to be thrown out and replaced.

Dead cockroaches were also observed in the kitchen and bar area. The inspectors note reads “remove dead pests frequently.”

A restaurant employee allowed Fox 59 cameras in the kitchen where a cook said, in Spanish, that there are some cockroaches in the restaurant, but not in the kitchen. La Hacienda has been fined twice since August by the health department.

An Aug. 21 inspection of the Steak ‘n Shake at 5360 North Keystone Avenue details chicken and hot dogs being stored in a freezer at a potentially hazardous temperature. Cold foods are to be stored at 41 degrees or lower. Blue cheeses and horseradish dressing were also being held at 47 degrees.

Milk box equipment was also found heavily soiled as was the milkshake station.

The restaurant manager declined an interview or request for Fox 59 cameras to enter the kitchen.

Family-owned Wah Wah Chinese Restaurant at 2732 Westlane Road received a $100 violation for recent violations. The man behind the counter said they are on track now, and handed over a pest control company receipt dated Oct. 14. He declined Fox 59 requests to view the kitchen area.

An inspector also said he found cross contamination issues inside the Chinese restaurant: raw shrimp was being stored over some sauces and chicken was being stored over lettuce.

Managers at Claddagh Irish Pub on East 96th Street said a cooler broke on the day of their last inspection. The staff had to throw away a long list of food items including corned beef, turkey, steaks, cole slaw, fish, mayonnaise, several sauces, potatoes and even pesto.

“We keep a log every day. It has to be filled out by the chef. They take temperatures, and the manager signs off on it,” said a Claddagh manager. He also said they have been following this protocol for some time, including the day the inspector last visited the restaurant.

The inspector also detailed what he considers a long-term problem: repeated pest violations for a year. He suggested structural improvements, claiming a pest control company visit would not be enough to tackle the issue in the back room, dry storage area, kitchen and bar. The restaurant staff said they have taken care of it, but they declined a Fox 59 visit in their kitchen.

The restaurants visited by Fox 59 are among a list of businesses that have been warned about food safety issues and fined.

All food safety inspection reports that are more than 10 days old are available online at http://hhcwebfood.mchd.com/.

There are no “pass/fail” criteria for inspections, but all inspections are based on critical and non-critical violations. Each inspection is evaluated on an individual basis, and a decision is made by the inspector on what actions are to be taken such as fines, closure, and warnings.