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By Claire Everett/CU-CitizenAccess.org — Meat leaking blood into cases of beer, ice machines with mold and flies in drains were among the critical violations public health inspectors found in city and county restaurants and grocery stores over the past three months.
Champaign County health department inspectors failed 13 businesses and closed one of them briefly. In total, inspectors cited the businesses for more than 110 critical violations.
In addition, inspectors found three food businesses were operating without licenses.
Restaurants, food markets and other businesses are scored on a 100-point scale and fail with any adjusted score below 36. Points are deducted for critical and non-critical violations to get a score.
Inspectors then deduct additional points based on the number of repeat violations and the number of critical violations to get an adjusted score.
Restaurants that fail below zero or have critical violations that pose threat to consumers are immediately shut down.
If they are in Champaign or Urbana, they are required to post a red placard in a prominent place. If they fail, but are not shut down, then they are supposed to post a yellow placard. If they pass, they post a green placard.
The color-coded placard system began in January for restaurants in Champaign and Urbana. But food facilities were not required to post the yellow placards until July. Health officials said the grace period was attributed to education and notification about the new system.
Restaurants, grocery stores and other food businesses outside of the twin cities are not required to post placards. The Champaign County Board voted down a proposal to include county establishments in November.
Five out of the 13 food facilities that failed in the months of May, June or July were not located in Champaign and Urbana and thus, did not have to post placards.
But some county restaurants are voluntarily posting placards, according to Jim Roberts, environmental health director for Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. The Champaign County Board plans to revisit discussion on the issue next month.
Inspectors found a wide range of violations at the businesses that failed.
At the McDonald’s at 1006 S. Purnell Dr. in Mahomet, which received an adjusted score of 19, inspectors cited seven critical violations in June, including mold on an inside panel of the ice machine dripping into the ice.
Mid-America Market, next to the McDonald’s at 1005 S. Purnell Dr., also received an adjusted score of 28 in June and five critical violations that included molded walls inside the ice machine and mold dripping on the ice.
Thomasboro Market at 608 N. Commercial Street in Thomasboro, received an adjusted score of 5 after health inspectors found large portions of meat leaking blood resting on cases of beer.
They also found a wooden roller used for meat stored with items used for produce. The inspector noted there was no intention of washing the items and there was no sanitizing at the facility—only soap and water were used.
Two days later, the facility was re-inspected and received an adjusted score of 86. The only critical violation was the back screen door, which was ripped and in poor condition.
Perkin’s Restaurant and Bakery, 1214 W. University Avenue in Urbana, failed its health inspection on July 28 with an adjusted score of 28 and four critical violations.
Inspectors saw an employee handling food after pulling up his pants with his gloves on, and sanitizing solution that registered higher than the proper amount.
Mirabelle Fine Pastries, 124 W. Main Street in Urbana, was cited for six critical violations on July 28 that included holding foods at improper temperatures and an employee who was observed wiping her hands on an apron and then handling pastries without washing her hands. It received an adjusted score of 17.
It was later briefly closed for repeated violations during a re-inspection but given a passing score on Aug. 12.
“When they went back to do the re-inspection they had two risk factors they had on the original inspection,” Roberts said. “Holding hot food hot and cold food cold.”
In July, inspectors also cited three places for operating without a permit.
Serving food or beverage to the public without a permit violates the Health Ordinance of Champaign County.
An inspector investigated CrowBar, 109 E. Market Street, Sadorus after a complaint about food being cooked outside the restaurant and then served inside. During the investigation, the health inspector did not find any food, but there were open liquor bottles on the bar, so the inspector put a red “closure” placard on the bar’s door.
Instead of complying, someone in the bar removed the sign and Roberts sent the bar a letter to stop operating and took legal action with the Champaign County State’s Attorney.
Roberts said his team would check to make sure the bar was closed and then see about pursuing legal action.
The Dugout at Wendl’s Sports Complex also did not comply when Roberts sent a letter in June to cease operation because they did not have a health permit or city food license.
On July 15, Roberts sent another letter notifying the owner that The Dugout was closed and would adorn a red “closure” placard until removed by a health inspector, otherwise legal action would be taken.
Roberts said the Dugout changed the menu to prepackaged foods and no longer required a permit.
Parkland College Student Services was the final establishment found operating a food establishment without a permit in July.
In a letter to the Physical Plant Director, Roberts said health inspectors placed a red placard in the business and would not remove it until the director applies for and receives a health permit.
Roberts said since the letter, Parkland had applied and been issued a health permit.
Yellow Placards and Reinspections
Until July 1, restaurants and other food businesses were given a six-month grace period before they were required to post failure notices.
Instead, businesses could fix enough violations while an inspector was on site to earn a passing score.
Typically, businesses that failed health inspections but were allowed to remain open were re-inspected within 30 days.
But that process has changed as well.
The health department now allows food establishments that fail health inspection to submit a request form when they are ready to be re-inspected, and a health inspector will come to the establishment within 48 hours (the date of the inspection plus 24 hours)—a change from the original 30-day window for re-inspection.
“With the implementation of the placards, the boards of health as well as the establishment operators wanted a shorter turnaround time than 30 days,” Roberts said. “They wanted to get that yellow inspection notice off their door so they wanted a quicker turnaround.”
Noted below are the score and number of critical violations of the restaurants and food establishments that failed health inspections between May and July.
Buffalo Wild Wings, 907 W. Marketview Drive, Champaign
Inspected on May 14 with an adjusted score of 35, Buffalo Wild Wings had seven critical violations including ranch, blue cheese dressing, and chili cheese sauce out of safe temperature range. The cold water in the kitchen’s sink was shut off and a garbage can blocked an employee hand sink.
County Market (Grocery/Meat/Bakery/Produce), 1201 E. Grove Ave., Rantoul
Inspected on June 17 with an adjusted score of 30 and four critical violations including two coolers that were holding produce out of safe temperature range and no functioning cold water in the bakery’s sink.
El Progreso, 1001 W. Bloomington Road, Champaign
Inspected on May 19 with an adjusted score of 34 and four critical violations including open packages of deli meat on display with no date label and carne asada that was cooked the day before, left out at room temperature all night, and then put back on the warmer, according to the manager. An employee threw out the meat. Another violation included floor cleaner being used to sanitize dishes.
Jupiter’s, 39 E. Main St., Champaign
Inspected on May 22 with an adjusted score of 35 and four critical violations. The inspector observed an employee drinking and then refilling a customer’s glass without hang washing and an employee putting on gloves to make pizza without hand washing. The back door, which had no screen door, was also left propped open.
McDonald’s, 1006 S. Purnell Drive, Mahomet
Inspected on June 9 with an adjusted score of 19 and seven critical violations including mold on an inside panel of the ice machine dripping into the ice, and chemical bottles stored near single-service cups. Yogurt, sliced cheese and cut tomato were also found out of safe temperature range.
Mid-America Market, 1005 Purnell Drive, Mahomet
Inspected on June 9 with an adjusted score of 28 and five critical violations including a hand sink being used to store leaking cans and cleaning supplies. The inspector also noted there were molded walls inside the ice machine and mold was dripping on the ice. Hot dogs were also not labeled with a date and cooked hot dogs were being held at unsafe temperatures.
Mirabelle Fine Pastries, 124 W. Main St., Urbana
Inspected on July 28 with an adjusted score of 17 and six critical violations, the bakery’s Food Service Sanitation Manger Certification, a requirement for all food facilities in Illinois, was expired. In addition, the hand sink in the bread room was not functional, the display cooler was five degrees too high and an employee was observed wiping her hands on her apron and then handling pastries without washing her hands.
Panera Bread, 1765 W. Kirby, Champaign
Inspected on July 22 with an adjusted score of 30 and five critical violations including houseflies throughout the restaurant and drain flies in the dish area. Fifteen food items including deli ham and hummus were found at unsafe temperatures, and the air in a walk-in cooler was out of safe temperature range.
Perkin’s Restaurant and Bakery, 1214 W. University Ave., Urbana
Inspected on July 28 with an adjusted score of 28 and four critical violations including an employee observed pulling up his pants with gloves on and then handling food and the sanitation concentration registered at 100 PPM over the proper amount.
Radio Maria, 119 N. Walnut St., Champaign
Inspected on May 20 with an adjusted score of 34 and five critical violations including butter and thyme stored over a week past the proper holding period, which is seven days after the product is dated. A dish machine and a sink filled with plates did not register any sanitizer and the hand sink in the meat prep station did not have any cold water.
Rantoul Pizza Pub, 114 E. Congress Ave., Rantoul
Inspected on July 9 with an adjusted score of 25 and six critical violations including no employees washing their hands because the sink was broken. A technician came during the inspection and fixed the sink and the inspector stopped employees from preparing any food until it was fixed. Italian beef the owner said was cooked and ready to serve was nearly 50 degrees below the proper temperature of cooked meat.
Subway, 2000 N. Neil St., Champaign
Inspected on June 9 with an adjusted score of 32 and five critical violations including no hot water in the prep sink and two other hand sinks blocked—one was covered in plastic wrap and one was covered by cookie sheets. There was also no proof of a full-time certified manager available in the store.
Thomasboro Market, 608 N. Commercial St., Thomasboro
Inspected on June 10 with an adjusted score of five and nine critical violations including large portions of meat resting on cases of beer. The health inspector noted there was blood from the meat inside the cases of beer. The inspector also noted a wooden roller used for meat was stored inside of a produce strainer and there was no intention of washing the items. There was also no sanitizing at the store, all utensils were only being washed with soap and then rinsed. The store was reinspected two days later and received an adjusted score of 86, the sole critical violation being the back door screen was in poor condition.