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Restaurant inspectors find mold, sketchy sushi in Iowa kitchens

In recent weeks, state and county inspectors have discovered potentially dangerous sushi, moldy fruit and cheese, seven-month-old eggs and even a baby’s crib inside the kitchens of Iowa restaurants.

Their findings are reported by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, which handles food-establishment inspections at the state level.

Listed below are some of the more serious findings that stem from restaurant inspections conducted throughout Iowa since the first of January.

The state inspections department reminds the public that their reports are a “snapshot” in time, and violations are often corrected on the spot before the inspector leaves the establishment. For a more complete list of all inspections, along with additional details on each of the inspections listed below, visit the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals’ web site.

Supermarket Villachuato, 107 N. Center St., Marshalltown — A Jan. 12 inspection by the state resulted in eight violations being cited: A bucket of raw, whole fish was stored over ready-to-eat items in the walk-in cooler; raw shell eggs were stored over ready-to-eat sauces and tortillas; although the restaurant served raw tilapia, it lacked proof of parasite destruction; food was not date marked; multiple sauces and containers of salsa were not date marked; sliced watermelon was not date marked; the meat grinder was soiled with dried meat and debris; and cleaning chemicals were stored with the food flavorings in a food-preparation area.

Randhawas Travel Center, 1659 Marshalltown Blvd., Melbourne – A Feb. 23 inspection by the state resulted in 11 violations being cited, including: The establishment did not employ a certified food-protection manager; no verifiable employee health-reporting training had occurred; sliced deli ham was not marked with a date; house-made sausage gravy produced seven days prior was not date marked; there was no sanitizer solution used in the three-compartment sink; a meat slicer was contaminated with dried food debris; and scoops used for retrieving ice for drinks were stored in a hand-washing sink.

El Salvadoreno Restaurant, 1234 E. Euclid Ave., Des Moines — A Jan. 8 inspection by the state resulted in a finding that due to the number and type of critical violations observed, the restaurant did not demonstrate that anyone was in charge of the establishment. Included among the 13 violations cited by inspectors: A playpen and crib were set up inside the kitchen; a made-from-scratch pineapple vinegar drink “was adulterated with a visible mold-like substance” in it; raw beef was observed stored on top of a container of cooked beans and other vegetables; shredded cheese was kept at 74 degrees; food items throughout the restaurant lacked any date markings; the three-compartment sink used to clean dishes had zero measurable sanitizing solution; the hand-washing sink had various objects, as well as thawing meat, sitting in it; a bag of rice in the dry food-storage area was observed “on top of a pest sticky trap;” and employees’ medicine was stored above food preparation areas and dishware. The inspection was triggered by a complaint that was ruled unverified.

Claxon’s Smokehouse & Grill, 3131 8th St., Altoona — A Feb. 22 inspection by the state resulted in 10 violations being cited, including: None of the people designated as “in charge” were certified food-protection managers; the person in charge did not have “active managerial control of food service operations;” the establishment was unable to provide a verifiable employee health policy; prime rib was being held at 108 degrees, pork was holding at 130 degrees, and both had to be discarded; cooked potatoes were being held at 51 degrees on a food-preparation table; house-made Thousand Island dressing, cooked ham and cooked turkey were all being held past the allowable seven days; a meat therm

Phoenix Asian Restaurant, 15700 Hickman Road, Clive — A Jan. 5 inspection by the state resulted in 11 violations being cited, including: No one in charge was present at the restaurant, and no one with assumed responsibility; hand-washing sinks not set up for proper handwashing or sanitation; visibly soiled linens were used to cover dishes of food and were in direct contact with food-prep surfaces; cooked chicken was held at 50 degrees; rice and sauces on a shelf were measured at almost 63 degrees; pans stored in the “clean” storage area were visibly soiled with food debris; the dishwasher was operating with no detectable level of sanitizing chlorine; and soap was not available at the employee hand sink.

A & M Café, 4th Ave., Grinnell — A Jan. 4 inspection by the state resulted in eight violations being cited, including: The establishment did not employ a currently certified food-protection manager; verifiable employee health training had not taken place for all employees; staff was observed handling toast and cinnamon rolls with their bare hands; raw hamburger was stored over ready-to-eat leaf lettuce in the refrigerator; containers of chili soup, sausage gravy and pancake mix were not marked with a date; and vegetable soup was not discarded seven days after preparation.

Mongolian Buffet, 1620 S. Kellogg Ave., Ames — A Jan. 28 inspection by the state resulted in 11 violations being cited: The person in charge did not meet the regulatory requirements of a person in charge; fried shrimp, cooked fish and rice were all being held in a cooler at temperatures ranging from 56 degrees to 101 degrees and had to be discarded; sushi was held at 45 to 53 degrees and was discarded; cooked noodles, cooked mussels, sauces and cooked chicken were not marked with dates; and the dishwasher was not properly sanitizing dishes.

Cool Basil, 1250 86th St., Clive — A Feb. 8 inspection by the state resulted in 10 violations being cited: Shell eggs were stored above produce inside a walk-in cooler; rice in a warmer was measured at 80 degrees; tofu was measured at 53 degrees; no written procedures were on hand for sushi rice preparation; there was no discard-time marked on the sushi rice; food preparation surfaces were cleaned daily rather than the minimum of every four hours; and the faucet on the handwashing sink was broken.

Restaurant inspectors find mold, sketchy sushi and even a baby’s crib in Iowa kitchens

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