Dirty Dining: Restaurants at the airport face fines from health department

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Health inspectors across central Indiana are hitting the streets to ensure restaurants are complying with safety and cleanliness standards. In the latest round of reports, restaurants at the Indianapolis International Airport were fined for critical violations.

Travelers can regularly be spotted rolling their carry-ons around the airport’s civic plaza as they decide where to eat. Choices for airport-goers range from fast food chains to health-oriented spots.  All of the eateries inside the airport are regularly inspected by the Marion County Health Department.

The inspector did not give the McDonald’s in the civic plaza a passing grade during a visit on May 4, 2017. The restaurant was cited for 17 violations – six of them critical. The health department gave the McDonald’s location a $500 fine. Employees were required to throw away eggs and Canadian bacon that were being held at unsafe temperatures.

The inspector also noted gnats by the tea urns, employees not washing their hands and dirty cooking tools. According to the inspection report, an employee was seen dropping a spatula on the ground and then putting it back for continued use.

Employees did seem surprised when the Dirty Dining team showed up. They directed us to a woman who identified herself as the franchise owner. She declined to show us around the kitchen. She told FOX 59 the issues were due to negligence but they had been resolved.

During a follow up inspection the following week, most violations were fixed.

Next, we head to Shapiro’s Deli in concourse B. This location is not owned or operated by the original Shapiro’s owners. Instead, a large concession operator is in charge.

Issues at the airport Shapiro’s began back in May. The health department gave Shapiro’s Deli  a $250 fine for four critical and two non-critical violations. Then on June 30th, the inspector returned after a customer complained about a pest problem at the restaurant. The inspection reports says there were “several live roaches seen at the facility” during the complaint inspection.  Roaches were spotted during a follow up on July 10 and the restaurant was fined $150.

Shapiro’s Deli was cleared by the health department during another inspection on July 17.

Management for the restaurant sent us this statement:

“Upon learning of the situation, our onsite team moved quickly to address the deficiencies and subsequently passed the re-inspection. SSP America is passionate about delivering an authentic culinary experience to travelers which includes ensuring we operate clean and safe facilities.”

We reached out to the Indianapolis Airport Authority to learn how they oversee restaurants.

“While we don’t have direct oversight as to how a particular company deals with its processes, we don’t mind at all inserting ourselves,” said Bill Stinson, senior director of public affairs with the Indianapolis Airport Authority.

He said that means frequent communication with the restaurants.

“We meet with them regularly and talk about issues like this,” Stinson said. “And certainly, when there’s things to follow up on, we do that as well. We will stay diligent.”

Stinson said if a restaurant shows it’s having repeated problems with passing health inspections, the Airport Authority does have the ability to take more serious steps. But, he adds, they hope it does not have to come to that.