Health Dept. Roundup

There were some big offenders this week on Health Department Roundup -- where we bring them to you free of charge, so you can stay free of food poisoning! (We're trying out catchphrases. What do you think? Work in progress...)

A complaint yielded a July 16 inspection of Taqueria Lulu (4320 Almeda), and a temporary closure of the restaurant. It also yielded the best violation we've seen to date: "Employee facial hair is not well groomed and trimmed while handling food or utensils." But there were many more.

The restaurant was not conforming to Article II, and did lots of bad things with "potentially hazardous foods," such as packaging and refrigerating them for more than 24 hours without marking them with the time they were opened or the time they should be used by, and not keeping them colder than 41 degrees or hotter than 135 degrees while storing, displaying, transporting, or serving them.

Also, some food was found not to be safe for human consumption, not free of filth or contaminants, or not obtained from an approved source. The refrigeration unit had no working thermometer, equipment and utensils were not cleaned to prevent cross contamination, and some equipment was not in good repair, not capable of being maintained in a sanitary condition, or had a food-contact surface that was toxic. Also, sewage or liquid waste was not disposed of properly, there was no device preventing the backflow of solids, liquids or gas contamination into the water system, there was no trash can in bathroom, the wall or ceiling was not kept clean, there was not enough light in the kitchen, and what lights were in the kitchen were not protected with shatter-proof coating.

A complaint at The New Golden Palace (8520 Bellaire) led to a July 22 inspection that left the place open but found plenty of faults.

Food was not protected from contamination by dust, dirt, dirty equipment, coughs, sneezes, insects, rodents and a host of other ills. Raw or prepared food was removed from its original containers and stored in unclean or uncovered containers. Potentially hazardous foods were packaged and refrigerated for more than 24 hours without an "opened" or "use by" time stamp.

Food was stored within six inches of the floor, the bathroom was not kept free of "objectionable odors," and equipment was found not to be made of or repaired with safe, durable and corrosion-resistant materials.

And though there was no way to test the strength of the sanitizing solution, it appears not to have mattered because the moist cloths used to clean up food spills were not being sanitized between uses anyway.

We're running out of room, so we'll finish with a July 18 routine inspection at Collinas Italian Cafe (4990 Beechnut), where inspectors found the hand-washing sink not providing hot water, the moist cloths used to clean up spills not sanitized between uses, and the manager operating the eatery without a food service manager's certificate.

Also, potentially hazardous food was not being kept cold enough or hot enough during transport, display, or when served, uncooked food was not separated from about-to-be-served cooked food, and some equipment was not made of or repaired with safe, durable or corrosion-resistant materials.

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