Elm City Market Passes On 3rd Try

Kitchen manager Josh Kosloski has worked in lots of food prep settings, including French restaurants where haute cuisine and plastic gloves don’t mix. They do mix in Connecticut—with strict rules for hand-washing, as Kosloski learned in the latest round of city health inspections.

Kosloski and his crew learned that after Elm City Market failed two straight inspections.

On Nov. 15 the sprawling market on the ground floor of the 360 State apartment tower on Chapel Street scored only a 61 out of a minimum 80 needed to pass a health department inspection. Two other local eateries failed inspections, too.

Most of the violations at Elm City Market were minor, like “clean tracks on slide doors.”  But there were two big violations: a toxic item was stored near food products; and there was a gap in state-mandated hand-washing procedure when employees changed gloves.

The rule requires employees to wash hands whenever a pair of gloves is discarded and a new one donned, even if the worker doesn’t leave the food prep area to touch a door knob or check a cell phone.

Both are significant four-point deductions on the score card sanitarians keep recording each visit.

Click here for the ">state health guidelines for food service workers, with hand washing and glove technique items 12 and 13.

The staff was given two weeks to make corrections. On Nov. 29, on the reinspection, the large violations recurred. They were rectified on site. Still the debits were noted, and the popular co-op market scored only a 70, not enough for a passing grade. 

On the inspection form beneath “Date Corrections Due:” senior sanitarian Brian Wnek wrote “24 hours.”

The market also had to pay the required $100 fee for the reinspection.

“It [rectifying all the noted violations] should have been done on the 29th,” said Elm City Market’s Marketing Manager, Amy Christensen, referring to the corrections and more scrupulousness in following procedure. The market has 87 employees, including about 25 in the kitchen, she said.

Kitchen manager Kosloski and “everyone came together as a team to make it right on the 30th. And every day after,” Christensen said.

When Wnek returned on Nov. 30,  for a third unannounced visit within two weeks, the score zoomed to a respectable 90 out of 100.

Elm City Market was one of 44 food establishments inspected by the health department during the Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 period. Besides Elm City, which eventually passed on the third try, two others institutions failed: Jeera Thai on Crown Street; and Ixtapa Taqueria on Lamberton Street, which was closed down until major repairs and cleaning are undertaken.

City sanitarians inspect all of New Haven’s restaurants, groceries, bars, and any other establishment that serves food between one and four times a year. Establishments that score less than 80 usually have two weeks to make the recommended corrections. The health department can also close a restaurant, regardless of its score, if the sanitarians suspect an immediate danger to public health.

The Winners

11/27/2012: Subway, 315 Foxon Blvd., Score: 96; Wal-Mart Stores, 315 Foxon Blvd., Score: 86; S.B. Mart Convenience Store, 422 Middletown Ave., Score: 90; JC Travel Express, 220 Grand Ave., Score: 93; Basta, 1006 Chapel St., Score: 90; Viva Zapata, 161 Park St., Score: 81; St. Francis Church, 397 Ferry St., Score: 98; Ferry Grocery, 410 Ferry St., Score: 89; La Quinta Inn & Suites, Score: 88

11/28/2012: New Haven Hotel, 229 George St., Score: 93; Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea, 258 Church St., Score: 93; Tlaxcala Grocery, 964 State St., Score: 89; Sam Food/DB Mart, 287 Blake St., Score: 94; Owl Shop, 268 College St., Score: 84; 168 York Street Cafe, 168 York St., Score: 87; Sofie’s Gourmet, 60 Temple St., Score: 81; Cafe George by Paula, 300 George St., Score: 89; Istanbul Cafe South, 245 Crown St., Score: 81; Joseph Slifka Ctr for Jewish Life, 80 Wall St., Score: 91; Sunrise Deli, 820 State St., Score: 92

11/29/2012: Akasaka Japanese Restaurant, 1450 Whalley Ave., Score: 89; Fitch Street Food Mart, 258 Fitch St., Score: 90; Lulu, A European Cafe, 49 Cottage St., Score: 90; Congress Market, 620 Congress Ave., Score: 83; Stella Blues, 204 Crown St., Score: 90;

11/30/2012: Centro De Bienstar #2, 263 Grand Ave., Score: 97; Fair Haven Clam & Lobster Co., 265 Front St., Score: 100; St. Rose Church, 115 Blatchley Ave., Score: 96; Ferraro’s Market 664 Grand Ave., Score: 82; Ferraro’s Market Food (Take Out), 664 Grand Ave., Score: 83La Carreta Restaurant, 930 State St., Score: 80; Jordans Hot Dogs & Mac, 957 State St., Score: 90; Cave A Vin, 973 State St., Score: 89; Elm City Market, 777 Chapel St., Score: 90; Knights of St. Patrick, 1533 State St., Score: 90;

12/3/2012: New Haven Pizza, 798 George St., Score: 83; Dunkin Donuts, 105 Derby Ave., Score: 83; Scorplo’s Lounge and Cafe, 17 Norton St., Score: 83; Dollar Haven, 111 Derby Ave., Score: 81; Morning Glory Infant Toddler Ctr., 49 Parmelee Ave., Score: 94; Siloam Cafe, 1 Long Wharf, Score: 84

The 2 Needing Improvement

Jeera Thai
216 Crown St.
Score: 68
Due: 2 Weeks

• Don’t block access to hand sink by storing items inside of it
• Store wipe cloths in sanitary solution
• Cover exposed food products, don’t store food products on the floor
• Clean baffles on hood system
• Label products not in original containers
• Hang up mops and brooms when not in use
• Clean air vents, water-stained ceiling tiles
• Follow label instructions on products that state “keep refrigerated”
• Don’t use a cup as a scoop for food
• Clean walls, touch up defective walls
• Don’t line shelves with towels, fix defective top on freezer
• No drinking from an open (uncovered) cup in a food preparation area
• Invert single serve containers
• Refill paper towel dispenser at front and rear hand sinks
• Clean gaskets on cooler doors
• Seal gaps on exterior doors
• Clean exhaust fan
• Fix defective flooring, clean floors under and around equipment
• Don’t store toxic items with food products
• Raise hot water temp at hand sink to more than 110 degrees, fix cold water faucet on hand sink

Ixtapa Taqueria
63 Lamberton St.
Score: 74
Kitchen closed until major cleaning and repairs made

• Container of pickles, peppers in liquid uncovered by cleanout to grease separator - destroyed
• Large pan of cooked pork - 54 degrees, on counter uncovered with spoon inside
• Containers of food uncovered on floor inside refrigerator units
• Large pan of chicken inside grocery bag adjacent meat in grocery bag, both thawing
• Containers of food sitting on floor
• Missing paper towels at kitchen at toilet room hand sinks
• Container stored in kitchen hand sink
• Using grocery bags to store meat
• Shelves inside and out of reach-ins rusty
• Goose neck hose on 3-bay sink tied up
• 3-bay sink not clean
• Toilet seat on floor and not clean
• Missing screen on rear door
• Floors not clean
• Dirty wiping cloths throughout, not clean
• And not stored in bleach water bucket
• Dirty wiping cloths not stored in one place, missing clean wiping cloths
• Floor flooding from boiling unattended pots
• Screen door missing screen

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posted by: streever on December 10, 2012  12:33pm

The health code rules are over strict.

If a chef washes his or her hands and then cooks my food, without going to the bathroom or leaving the clean food prep area, I don’t expect them to wear gloves. Why? What is the difference? The germs on their hands after a good washing are going to be no different than the germs on the knife, the cutting board, the wax paper, etc.

The disconnect between perceived risk and real risk is wider than the gap between Republicans and Democrats, and the byzantine rules of our health code do not educate citizens, but rather serve to keep them in ignorance.

posted by: HhE on December 10, 2012  2:52pm

Well said, streever.  There is such a difference between risk management and risk avoidance.  Pity our society cannot figure that out.

My kids and I love shopping at Elm City Market, and we have yet to get sick.

posted by: newhavengill on December 10, 2012  10:56pm

“The health code rules are over strict.” - Streever

Honestly, I never expected to read that.  I think I understand what you’re saying though.

posted by: HenryCT on December 11, 2012  3:02pm

Let’s see: Over 40 food-serving establishments passed the requirements. Elm City Market didn’t, until the third try, but because we like ESM the rules are too strict. Did you read Ixtapa’s violations? Does that place appear to be protecting its customers? It got a higher grade, 74, than ESM, 61.

Just scratching my head.

posted by: streever on December 11, 2012  3:28pm

Why do you think I like ECM?

I’m not a member, and have shopped there one time. I had one sandwich from the deli at a meeting once, and bought a bag of chips.

I’m sorry that you don’t like my opinion, but am unsure what that has to do with the health code. I’ve never been to Ixtapa and don’t even know where it is, so didn’t bother to think about that part of the story.

I don’t think it is particularly useful or helpful to engage in an ad hominem attack. I’m not sure why my opinion needs to take Ixtapa into consideration, for that matter.

What is the relevance?

When it comes to the code, I just think that the State of CT requiring people to wash their hands when switching gloves is excessive and a bit silly. I also think that establishments losing points for leaving a mop in a mop bucket is silly.

I forget my mop in my bucket sometimes. It takes more time the next time I use it, but it doesn’t make my dinner more likely to give me food poisoning.

I think rules requiring hairnets are silly. So what if a strand of dead hair gets into my food? Odds are I’m eating dead flesh or produce that grew out of dirt. I’m not too concerned with a stray hair off of a cook’s head.

You may disagree with me, but I think you are reaching for straws if you think this opinion stems from a deep love of the Market. I admire the building and think it is a great resource to keep New Haven residents in New Haven for their grocery store, and that is where my love affair starts—and ends.

posted by: HenryCT on December 11, 2012  5:09pm

Strike “because we like ESM.” It is not essential to the argument. My criticism is not intended as an ad hominem attack. It is intended to challenge the assertion that the public health rules for food preparation are too strict. That so many other sites passed suggests that none of them find the rules too strict to obey.

The point of raising Ixtapa is not whether one eats there. It is a question of the code violations that are detailed. Even though they are pretty extensive and would discourage me from patronizing that site, Ixtapa got a higher grade than Elm City Market.

In the Public Health Compliance Guide Under “Handling of Food Minimized” is “c. Tongs, forks, spoons, picks, spatulas, scoops, single-use gloves and other suitable utensils shall be provided and shall be used by employees to reduce manual contact with food to a minimum.  For self-service by customers, similar implements shall be provided.” Wearing plastic gloves provides a warm, moist environment for microorganisms to multiply. After removing the gloves, washing hands reduces the populations of those microorganisms. By no means does it sterilize the hands.

Hair in food is an indicator of food preparation conditions that are not hygienic.

What hygienic steps you take, or don’t take, at home affect you. What steps the food preparers in a public space take affect the public. Perhaps it would be valuable to read the story of Mary Mallon (“Typhoid Mary”). Preparing food for herself was not a hazard. Preparing food for the public was.

posted by: streever on December 11, 2012  6:16pm

Thank you for the clarification.

I don’t think anyone has become ill from eating at ECM because of the rules cited, and I don’t think anyone is likely to, so I do think that the rules used to give them a failing a score were excessive and not particularly useful.

The score doesn’t actually serve to give me useful information. It doesn’t actually reflect how safe it is to eat at an establishment..

People are saying they won’t eat at ECM over this. What? I guarantee you the chicken that was pumped with chemicals, fed GMO corn, had its beak burned off, and then rotted after being slaughtered and sitting out until it was dunked in a chlorine bath before being rinsed with water and then wrapped in oil-based plastics and put on styrofoam before being turned into “food” at (Insert name of chain restaurant here) is worse for you than an organic, free-range chicken sandwich from ECM, even if their employees don’t follow rule #23 B, section III, article A, sub-section 11, Article 3.

For that matter, I guarantee you that a Burger King hamburger is worse for you in a dozen ways than an organic chicken sandwich from ECM, but Burger King got a 91 from the Health Department, whereas ECM failed.

I think that health departments need to do more than make sure the mops are stored “appropriately”, and give scores that are reflective not just of the hand washing habits of a few employees, but also rank the offerings and food available in a way that makes sense to EVERYONE.

posted by: HenryCT on December 11, 2012  10:53pm

No one is guaranteed to get sick if food preparation safety rules are ignored. The purpose for public health cleanliness rules is to reduce the chances that people get sick. Will anyone get sick if a food preparation worker comes in with the flu? Better for public health to provide workers sick days.

I don’t accept the argument that food preparation safety policies should be relaxed because commercially grown and prepared chicken may be toxic or that the quality and safety of Burger King’s food leaves a lot to be desired. Rather we should have policies that corral the polluted farm-to-fork food industry and raise the standards. And the ones we have today are a lot better than 1906, when Upton Sinclair exposed the meat packing industry. Let’s go forward.

posted by: Edward_H on December 12, 2012  12:03am

““The health code rules are over strict.” - Streever”

I agree 0. In fact, this has been the case in every city I have lived in, SF,NYC, Miami. I have also traveled all over the world where such strict rules are non-existant or more lenient. I have never heard of anyone getting sick because someoen used a cup to scoop food.

posted by: HhE on December 12, 2012  8:52am

I am all for reasonable health inspections, indeed, I am very keen on reasonable heath inspections. 

I also commend the NHI for reporting on this.

posted by: HenryCT on December 12, 2012  4:43pm

I have never seen a person come down with a deadly disease while eating in a restaurant. Similarly, I have never seen anyone run over by a bus in the U.S. or abroad. Nonetheless there are reports that it happens. It makes sense not to step out in front of a moving bus.

I usually don’t have the opportunity, or the time, to investigate the actions of the kitchen staff in restaurants I patronize. Nor do I have the expertise to know the health consequences of some of their actions. That’s what I pay taxes to have public health officials do. They probably represent my interests far better than a lot of other public officials.

posted by: streever on December 12, 2012  5:03pm

It seems to me that your trust is misplaced and misguided if you trust the government to give you honest information on food safety and health. Personally, I’m a bit suspicious of the government in food inspections, because I think they operate from a place of paranoia regarding cleanliness while completely ignoring the possible dangers of GMOs and factory-farmed meats.

It is OK that you disagree with me on this! I’m not entirely sure what your point is, but I understand that you disagree with me. I think we morphed from a claim that I was an ECM cheerleader to an assertion that the Health Department is beyond reproach and should not be questioned. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood your point, in which case, I apologize for any misunderstanding on my part.

I think both positions are equally free of evidence, however, and think that the government has a horrible track record on interpreting science and health issues. I understand that you disagree with me, but I haven’t seen any evidence in your replies, so I don’t think we’re really having a debate. If we are, I’m not sure what we’re debating. With that in mind, I’ll gracefully bow out, and leave you to it!

posted by: Edward_H on December 12, 2012  9:09pm


Sorry I meant my comment to read: I agree one hundred percent!


“Similarly, I have never seen anyone run over by a bus in the U.S. or abroad.”

Check out worldstarhiphop.com LOL