Argenis Rodriguez’s mom Angela had dishwashing soap by the sink in the toilet room, not handwashing soap.
Unfortunately for JR Deli & Grocery, while a furious debate rages on the Web over the great Dish vs. Hand Soap Controversy, it’s a settled matter for the city’s health inspectors.
As a result, the newly renovated neighborhood convenience store at Lancraft and Farren Avenue in the Annex was one of four out of 57 food establishments that failed health department inspections between March 5 and March 15.
City sanitarians inspect all of New Haven’s restaurants, groceries, bars, and other establishments that serve food between one and four times a year. Establishments that score less than 80 out of 100 usually have two weeks to make the recommended corrections. The health department can close a restaurant regardless of its score, if the sanitarians suspect an immediate danger to public health. (Scroll down in this story for results of the latest round of inspections.)
JR Deli landed in the middle of one of those obscure, bizarre health code debates, in this case hand soap versus dish soap. They really are different; click here for details on that. Hand soap has lotion in it that’s good for hands. Dish liquid has chemicals that cut through grease.
The state guidelines do not directly address the hand soap versus dish soap schism. Here’s what they say:
a. Handwashing facilities shall be maintained so that they are accessible at all times for employee use and located to allow for convenient use by employees in:
(1) Food preparation areas
(2) Food dispensing areas
(3) Toilet rooms or immediately adjacent to all toilet rooms
(4) Warewashing area
b. Food employees shall keep their fingernails hands and exposed portions of their arms clean by using a cleaning compound to lather hands and arms for at least 20 seconds, followed by thorough rinsing with clean water in a handwashing facility and hand drying using approved sanitary towels or other approved hand drying device.
c. Approved handwashing and hand drying shall be conducted by food employees before starting work and as often as required to remove soil and contamination from hands to include:
Sot the city’s health inspectors have to make interpretations when applying the state code..
City Environmental Health Director Paul Kowalski conceded that “soap is soap.” As long as it has sufficient surfactant qualities, that is, abrasiveness, it’s OK with him, he said.
On the other hand (pun intended), he pointed out that when you use a dishwashing liquid, there is so much grease-removing quality in it, it takes extra time to get the film off the hands. Extra scrubbing is required to remove the film.
“To use a more expensive product that’s made for dishes requires a little more activity on washing, and we can’t guarantee it happens,” he said. He said he’s concerned that film may remain on a food worker’s hands when the worker leaves the bathroom and returns to a food prep area.
So Kowalski instructs his inspectors to keep pushing for a standardized situation in all establishments: “Every hand sink has to have soap (hand soap), paper towels, and running hot and cold water. That’s what the demerits are about.”
Argenis Rodriguez (pictured at the top of the story) said that he had no idea that the soaps were not interchangeable, but he has since addressed the soap situation and other cited code violations. “All fixed up,” he said.
Argenis’ mom Angela bought the decades-old convenient store six months ago and did a major renovation. The place appears to sparkle with a shiny new wall-to-wall refrigerator, display area at the front, and new ceiling.
The Rodriguez family moved from the Bronx to Fair Haven when Argenis was 15. He graduated from Wilbur Cross High School three years ago and is himself thinking of eventually taking over the store from his mom. She bought it from her brother only six months ago.
Whenever there is a change of ownership, re-licensing is required. When JR Deli & Grocery passes its reinspection, the new license will follow.
In the meantime, Argenis and his mom are learning about soaps. “The little things get you,” he said.
Inspectors stress that a low score doesn’t mean a restaurant is always failing. Nor does a high or even perfect score mean an eatery is always squeaky clean. Rather it means that at the moment of the inspectors’ unannounced visit, they found the conditions they reported. That’s why city Environmental Health Director Paul Kowalski calls each inspection a sanitary “snapshot.”
Fifty-seven food establishments were inspected between March 5 and March 15. The four that did not were ordered to make required changes within two weeks. The following received passing grades.
3/05/2013: Paraiso De La Nutricion, 143 Kimberly Ave., Score: 90; Wings Over New Haven, 56 Whitney Ave., Score: 88; Istanbul Cafe South, 245 Crown St., Score: 83; Ibiza Restaurant, 39 High St., Score: 82; The Naked Oyster, 200 Crown St., Score: 88
3/06/2013: Gourmet Heaven, 15 Broadway, Score: 89; Pulse Night Club, 956 Chapel St., Score: 91; St. Martin De Porres Academy, 208 Columbus Ave., Score: 90; Edible Arrangements, 936 Chapel St., Score: 96; The Marketa, 180 Temple St., Score: 81; Subway-EJ Subs Inc., 926 Chapel St., Score: 80
3/07/2013: Chuckies/DBA News Room, 265 Church St., Score: 92; Riverside Academy, 560 Ella Grasso Blvd., Score: 91; McDonald’s Restaurant, 1004 Whalley Ave., Score: 88; Mcdonald’s Restaurant, 308 Ferry St., Score: 88; Church on the Rock, 95 Hamilton St., Score: 87; Bishop Woods, 1481 Quinnipiac Ave., Score: 99; Beecher School, 100 Jewel St., Score: 99; New Haven Lawn Club, 193 Whitney Ave., Score: 85; NHLC Catering Inc., 193 Whitney, Score: 85; Tre Scalini, 100 Wooster St., Score: 80;
3/11/2013: Jepson Magnet School, 15 Lexington Ave., Score: 97; Roberto Clemente School, 360 Columbus Ave., Score: 97; Nathan Hale School, 480 Townsend Ave., Score: 98; Wings Over New Haven, 56 Whitney Ave., Score: 96; Hill Central School, 140 Dewitt St., Score: 95; Quinnipiac Elementary School, 460 Lexington Ave., Score: 98; Buffalo Wild Wings, 74 Church St., Score: 81; Dunkin Donuts, 81 Church St., Score: 83; Super Star Market, 96 Sylvan Ave., Score: 84; The Greek Olive South, 100 Church St. South, Score: 86
3/12/2013: Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, 311 Temple St., Score: 90; New Worthington Hooker School, 691 Whitney Ave., Score: 98; Joy Kitchen, 251 Grand Ave., Score: 82; Frisco’s Restaurant, 383 Forbes Ave., Score: 95; Worthington Hooker School, 180 Canner St., Score: 95; Celentano School, 400 Canner St., Score: 96
3/13/2013: Royal Palace Restaurant, 32 Orange St., Score: 82; Kevin’s Seafood, 17 Kimberly Ave., Score: 92; Kasbah Garden Cafe, 105 Howe St., Score: 92; Au Bon Pain, 1 Broadway, Score: 88; Betsy Ross Arts Magnet Middle School, 150 Kimberly Ave., Score: 96; L’Orcio, 806 State St., Score: 86
3/14/2013: Deja Vu’s Bar & Restaurant, 50 Fitch St., Score: 84; K & Sons, LLC, 706 Dixwell Ave., Score: 92; Wilbur Cross High, 181 Mitchell Dr., Score: 95; Wilbur Cross Culinary Arts, 181 Mitchel Dr., Score: 93
3/15/2013: Whitney Food Mart, 374 Whitney, Score: 90; Apicella’s Bakery, 365 Grand Ave., Score: 85; Wexler/Grant School, 55 Foote St., Score: 96; ESLMS Engineering Science School, 804 State St., Score: 96; Augusta Lewis Troup School, 259 Edgewood Ave., Score: 95; New Haven Academy, 444 Orange St., Score: 97
The Four Needing Improvement
During the March 5 to March 15 period, the following four failed their inspections:
240 Kimberly Ave
Due: 2 weeks
• Curried goat on steam table - 55 degrees; chicken stew - 122 degrees; cooked cabbage on kitchen warming unit -133 degrees
• Stove not clean
• Rubber gasket on first reach-in - shredded
• Clean pans by rear walls stored face up
• Grease dripping from hood - dirty wall fan
• Rear wall in disrepair - exposed insulation over pans
• Missing light shields over microwaves and kitchen warmer, and no end caps on other overhead light
• Moldy wall behind kitchen refrigerator
• Floor not clean under coal bin
• 2-bay sink only no wash, rinse and sanitizer
• Kitchen hand sink missing soap and towel dispensers
• Kitchen hand sink storing dirty bowls and pans
• Reusing cardboard to line shelf storing food
• Storing cardboard in kitchen
• Spice rack shelves greasy
• Bags of frozen chicken sitting in 2-bay sink
• No functioning fan over stove to suck out fumes
• Store room and toilet room packed with unnecessary articles
• Food containers, chemicals all stored together in crevices of kitchen
• Floor tiles in customer area broken
• Missing “No Smoking” sign at entrance
• Front window frame still under construction
• Missing racks for dirty and clean air-dry pots
410 Blake St.
Due: 2 Weeks
• Ice cream area hand sink storing equipment
• Dirty wiping cloth on counter, not stored in bucket with sanitizer
• Plastic squirt bottles not all labeled
• Cooked meatballs - 110 degrees - in warmer
• Tomato sauce - 98 degrees - in warmer
• Sausage - same 98 degrees in warmer
• Spatula stored wedged between oven and reach-in
• Rubber gasket on reach-in door not clean, moldy
• Hot water at toilet room hand sink - 123 degrees F, too hot
• Open sack of food in side store-room under insulation
• Stained ceiling tiles in prep area
• Holes in ceiling with insulation exposed
• Food container uncovered
• Cup with handle used as scoop, submerged in food bin
• Broom stored on floor, not hanging up
• Containers of food re-used, need to be properly labeled
• Missing probe thermometers
JR Deli & Grocery
139 Farren Ave.
Due: 2 Weeks
• Dish soap in bathroom
• Unsealed wood, equipment and shelving
• Hand sink cluttered with containers
• Faucet on hand sink in disrepair and drain not working
• Food not properly labeled (sauce in garlic jars)
• Foil lined shelves in cooler (deli)
• Missing thermometer in deli cooler and probe for meat
• Food container uncovered
• Linen storage: linen on floor behind counter
• Cough medicine stored with vanilla on counter
• Cooking equipment (utensils) stored face up
• Hot water not available at hand sink
• Using dish detergent in hand sink in toilet room
• Front door propped open
• Too much bleach in bucket, no test strips
• Raw meat - 46 degrees
• Missing “No Smoking” sign at entrance
Eddy’s Food Center
27 Howard Ave.
Due: 2 Weeks
• Hand sink for hand washing only - blocked by equipment
• Food worker wiping hands on wiping cloth
• Using brown mini straws as stirrers
• Re-using cardboard in deli cooler
• Cabinet shelves not clean
• Dirty wiping cloth on counter, not stored in bucket of sanitizer, get test strips
• Floor in disrepair
• Retail shelves not clean
• 3-bay sink in rear for wash, rinse and sanitizer
• Rubber gaskets not clean
• Missing probe thermometer
• Counter-tops not clean
• Using hand sink as utility sink
• Lining coffee self-serve area with wiping cloth
• Shelf over 3-bay sink not clean, not available for air-drying equipment
• Low white shelf in kitchen, greasy, not clean
• Hood baffles not clean
• Replace damaged ceiling tiles