Shop Owner Decries “Class” Warfare
by Allan Appel | Aug 23, 2012 12:34 pm
Shalom Lemel, whose Whitney Avenue drug store has only two small coolers of prepackaged drinks, said city health inspectors are only going after small scale food-sellers like him for one reason—the money.
Lemel’s Taft Cosmetics, at 1 Whitney Ave., was one of 18 food establishments inspected by the city between Aug. 15 and 20. With a grade of 97, his shop scored the highest among the 15 that passed.
Despite his good grades, Lemel still has gripes about the process. He said city health inspectors should go after mice, rodents, and poison in restaurants. Inspecting shops like his that only sell candy, chips, and sealed drinks is just a pretext for collecting a licensing fee, he said.
City health department staff said the city has to inspect all businesses that sell food, no matter what.
City sanitarians inspect all of New Haven’s restaurants, groceries, bars, and any 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.
According to state law, food establishments are divided into four categories. Classes I and II are places like pharmacies, convenience stores, or mini-marts that sell only prepackaged, ready-to-eat food, and beverages in bottles or cans.
Class III and Class IV places are restaurants that serve hot foods that, negligently prepared, are potentially hazardous to the public health.
The health department’s Lorraine Reed said the city currently has 83 “eateries” in Class I, 172 in Class II, 488 in Class III, and 298 in Class IV. There are three inspectors who cover all those businesses.
Regardless of the class, the health department inspects all businesses using the same inspection form and surprise-visit approach.
Lemel, who’s been operating his Taft Cosmetics since 1996, said that makes no sense to him.
“I have no problems to play by rules and regulations. To me this is a dumb rule,” he asserted.
The only faults inspectors found in his store were that the grates and vents surrounding the coolers needed some cleaning, mops and brooms should be hung up, and he had to fix the sliding door on his bathroom.
Lemel said he thinks it’s a silly use of scarce municipal resources to have an inspector tell him he needs to put a clasp on the door of a bathroom only he uses. When customers need a bathroom, he directs them to his landlord’s restroom. Still, he said he will fix the clasp on his.
Lemel said he could not recall inspections for drug stores until recent years. He said the city’s policy must be driven by its appetite for licensing fees.
“I’d like to know if they go to CVS, Walgreens,” Lemel said.
In fact inspectors do go to the pharmacy chains, said the health department’s Lorraine Reed. “They all get inspected, any place that has food,” she said. Even “a clothing store that sells chips and candy” gets inspected.
Health department inspector Brain Wnek said that while local ordinances require any place selling food to have a license, “the majority of our authority comes through the state,” which establishes the categories.
He said it was not his job to quibble with the rules, but to enforce them.
He said inspecting Class I and II can play a role in recall of products, although stores do a good job of monitoring that themselves, he added. In general, he said that Class I places police themselves very well.
Of the 18 food establishments inspected since Aug. 15, 15 passed. The three that did not were ordered to make required changes within two weeks. The following received passing grades:
8/15/2012: Corner Grocery Mini Market, 148 Rosette St., Score 81; Church Convenience Store & Deli, 37 Church St., Score: 81; Lazy Lizard Cafe, 201 Crown St., Score: 86; The Cask Republic, 179 Crown St., Score: 81;; Spooner’s at A-1 Toyota, 50 Amity Rd., Score: 83.
8/16/2012: Anna Liffey’s, 17 Whitney Ave., Score: 88;; Town Pizza Restaurant, 25 Whitney Ave., Score: 82;; Breakaway Deli, 24 Whitney Ave., Score: 94; Taft Cosmetics, 2 Whitney Ave., Score: 97; Kevin’s Seafood, 17 Kimberly Ave., Score: 87; Golden China, 40 Kimberly Ave, Score: 86; Edge of the Woods, 379 Whalley Ave., Score 80.
8/20/2012: Triple A Pizza, 383 Whalley Ave., Score: 91; L And A Deli, 351 Whalley Ave., Score: 92; Whalley Ave Express Mkt, 385 Whalley Ave., Score: 87.
3 Need Improvement
During the Aug. 15 to Aug. 20 period, the following three failed their inspections:
Black Bear Saloon
124 Temple St.
Due: 2 Weeks
• Refill paper towel dispenser at hand sink
• Hang up mops and brooms
• Clean can opener blade holder and frame, clean speed racks
• Store wipe cloths in sanitary solution
• Fix defective gaskets on doors, clean gaskets on doors
• Cover exposed food products, don’t store food or drink on the floor
• Label products in original containers
• Don’t line bottom of shelves with towels in kitchen
• Need thermometers in warmest locations, in coolers holding potentially hazardous food
• Invert single service tins, hollow straws on bar not protected
• Clean wall board, clean fan covers, air vents
• Fix defective tread covers, touch up defective flooring, clean floors
• Hang up mops and brooms
• Clean tracks on slide doors
• Touch up defective exterior equipment, wipe exterior of equipment
• Fix defective light shield, don’t store food in ice used for drink
• Fix defective ink in basement bathroom
• Fix defective shelves, wipe shelves
• Seal gaps in exterior doors
• Clean ceilings
• Need consumer advisory [sign] on “2 for “25 menu
• Follow label instructions on products that state “Refrigerate after opening”
• Need covered trash can in female bathroom for female hygiene products
159 Truman St.
Due: 2 weeks
• Floor not clean behind front refrigerator
• No hot water at toilet room hand sink
• Shelves in walk-in not clean
• Food in containers, not covered throughout
• Reach-in door handles, [need]rubber gaskets
• No paper towels
• Raw chicken and eggs stored over cooked, ready to eat food
• Wiping cloths throughout
• Plastic containers of granular - missing labels
• Shell shrimp on counter at more than 45 degrees
• Using plastic cups without handles and
• Submerged in food, in bins (need scoops)
• Lining shelves with cardboard
• Stained ceiling tiles
• Containers of food on walk-in floors
• Low light in rear store room
• Accumulation of boxes outside
• Inside micro wave not clean
J&N Food & Grocery
131 Lamberton St.
Due: 1 week
• No functioning hand washing sink
• No hot and cold running water at hand sink
• Food stored on floor on top of bait strip
• Missing light shields on overhead lights
• Missing label on plastic squirt bottle of liquid
• No hand washing between glove changes
• Missing label on shaken bottle of granular
• Candy, hand lotion, and lip gloss stored together
• No wash rinse sanitizing of equipment
• Foil lined shelves in cooler - no foil
• Corn sticks or potato balls at 129 degrees in warmer
• Rear yard flooding, filled with unused equipment and
• Refuse in year yard and basement - remove from yard/garage, rodent harborage
• Plastic containers without handle used as scoops and
• Submerged in food throughout
• Floor tiles missing
• Missing “No Smoking” sign at front door
• Missing designated alternate QFO documentation
• Missing food work training logs
Post a Comment
Mr. Lemel has a choice: obtain a license to sell food or don’t sell food. If Class I licenses are less than Class IV licenses, all the more logical. Personally, I find that there are few better uses of scarce government resources than ensuring a safe food supply. There is no class warfare here (unless maybe you consider the prices for products at Taft—warfare on the wallet for sure!).
I’d also add that the photo shows dairy products in Taft’s display: seems reasonable for health inspectors to make sure that the refrigerator is kept at the right temperature, that the products aren’t past their sell-by date, etc. And that rats and mice don’t discriminate when it comes to packaged food versus unpackaged food…