Question of the Day: WHY does Orange County NOT put the results of its restaurant inspections on its website? Answer, from a very nice county health-department employee named Dave, who provided me with those results only after i filed a Freedom of Information Law request: No one knows. Other counties do it, but not Orange. “Maybe not enough people request them,” he suggested.
Here’s what i suggest: Do it! Till then, feast your eyes on the attached spreadsheet … if you can. Dave emailed it to me, and it’s waaay to big for me to see all of it at once on my home computer. The Record used to run the results, sometimes on Page One, at least annually, but shamefully, has not done so for two years now. Why not? Call them and ask, please!
But first, let me give you just a few juicy tidbits from this spreadsheet. i have barely begun to look through it myself: It would take several days to do so as it’s, like, 200 pages long, with many, many columns on a page. In equal parts hilarious and horrifying, it lists for each restaurant inspected this year, the violations (“M” for what they consider major and “MI” for minor) and, in some cases, whether or not those violations have been corrected. Let me jump right in and give you just a taste of what they found at some of our favorite restaurants in the City and Town of Newburgh.
First, i’m no doctor but here’s a suggestion for all HIV-positive food-preparers: Keep your medications off the “cook line.” I’m not even sure what a “cook line” is, but on Jan. 21, the county inspectors found Zidovudine and Kaletra (both used for treatment of HIV) on the “cook line, stored on a shelf with food.” According to WebMD, these are medications that you really, really DON’T want falling into your food, as the list of side effects is several miles long and include, among the milder ones, irreversible liver and heart damage. Luckily for patrons of La Hacienda — the City of Newburgh nightspot where this violation occurred — the inspector reported, “Medication was removed to proper storage area.”
On a lighter note, one of my favorites was the entry for Sept. 29 for Jimmy’s Restaurant in the city: “WD-40 used to lubricate slicer; food-grade lubricant not provided.” Hey, look at the bright side: If any kids pedal into the restaurant with a rusty bike chain, they’re all set. The inspector did add, however, “Practice discontinued.”
Of the hundreds of entries, many are rather common but a wee bit stomach-churning if you picture them in your head, like this one for Planet Wings on May 27: “Wiping cloths not stored in sanitizing solution (soiled cloths noted on food-prep table.”)
It wasn’t just the city whose eateries had violations. An inspection of Brother Bruno’s in the Town on Jan. 3 resulted in this entry: “Fly pest strips (with flies) hanging over food-prep tables.” And 2 Italian Mammas had “dry sausage (sopressata) and bread on top of the case with no protection.” Jeez, what is this world coming to, if we don’t have the decency to protect our innocent sopressata?
And Newburgh International Buffet surely should win some kind of prize for having “black mold … growing in wall-ceiling junctions above buffet tables.” I liked that the inspector added, “Owner says they clean it off occasionally.” But if that takes the cake, i hope they don’t get it from La Amistad I in the City, where on Jan. 10 the county found “rodents present; droppings observed in floor-wall junction in bakery area.”
Well, so much for My Big Idea: i see now that i can’t copy-and-paste that whole, huge spreadsheet into this little blog. So, here’s a work-around: If you’re interested, just let me know your email address, and i’ll send it to you. It’s really a treasure, and i’m glad to share.