BROOKVILLE – Insuring that food served or sold at Franklin County establishments is safe is a process, Franklin County Health Department sanitarian David Fehlinger explained to board members at the July 9 quarterly meeting. If an inspection shows critical problems, in addition to the inspection report that is filed with the Indiana State Department of Health, he writes a letter to the business. If they don’t clean up their act, a fine can be levied. “We’ve never fined anybody.” The most drastic action would be to close an establishment.
After a citizen complained about conditions at Rosenberger’s Market, Brookville, Fehlinger said a tour of the store afterwards showed “they seemed to fix the problems.”
Rosenberger’s officials sent a letter to FCHD addressing the complaint. In part it read, “Rosenberger’s Market understands food safety is a high priority for our customers” and the family that has operated the store for four generations agrees. They said employees keep everything that comes in contact with food “clean and sanitized throughout the day .... We regret that a customer would repeatedly make complaints” to the health department instead of approaching the business first.
The sanitarian added, “Bernie Rosenberger made a good point. You can go to any grocery store and stand there and see them doing things wrong.” Fehlinger said while he observes employees’ practices, they are on their best behavior.
Health officer Dr. Michael Fain recalled, “You and I discussed possibly having a sanitarian from another county” who would not be recognized tour a site and complete a report. Supervisor Diane Turney, R.N., wasn’t sure the findings of an out-of-county sanitarian would stick. The consensus was to have an ISDH employee perform an inspection at a place with continuing violations.
The sanitarian reported he has sent letters to just four or five establishments in the last five years. Sometimes meetings to discuss issues are scheduled instead. Fehlinger said, “It seems to help.” In addition to regular visits, he and fellow sanitarian Joe Meier investigate written and phone complaints.
If someone falls ill and suspects food poisoning, “people need to call the next day” while a food sample can still be sent to ISDH for testing.
Overall, county food establishments are following safety guidelines better than ever. During 50 surprise inspections by Fehlinger in 2013’s second quarter, 32 had no violations for 64 percent, higher than 55 percent in the six months before that.
However, there were 10 places that had critical issues, which are the most serious and must be corrected either immediately or within a short period. During an April 29 inspection, China Wok, Batesville, had seven critical violations and 17 noncritical ones, the most of any in the county. Problems rated C for critical: fruits and desserts on buffet at 50 degrees, higher than the required 41 degrees or less; knives, cleavers and magnetic rack dirty with food deposits; chicken, beef, salads, seafood and other items not dated for disposal after seven days at 41 degrees in walk-in cooler; dirty slicer; meat grinder not broken down and cleaned; moldy ice bin under soda dispenser; and hand wash sink in disrepair.
The restaurant made improvements, because when Fehlinger inspected again May 21, he found just one critical problem (moldy ice bin under soda dispenser) and two noncritical ones (food most be covered with food-grade plastic, not garbage bags or plastic grocery bags); and rice, salt, flour and other dry ingredients need to be stored in airtight containers).
The Batesville Kroger had five C findings, all for infant formulas on shelves past expiration dates.
Three establishments had two critical problems and more noncritical ones: Duck Creek Fudge Shop & Restaurant, Metamora, kitchen hand wash sink not provided and rodent bait not contained in covered, tamper-resistant bait station; Brookville Food Mart, baby food with expired dates and mouse droppings in cabinets below beverage dispensers; China House, Brookville, date marking for holding of food not utilized and hand wash sink not easily accessible.
Five locations had one critical issue each: Batesville Shell and Cricket Ridge, Batesville; The Brau Haus, Oldenburg; The Fatted Calf, Metamora; and Custom Sweets by Jamie, Brookville.
Noncritical problems were documented at eight establishments: Hav-A-Bite and The Hearthstone restaurants, Metamora; Cougar’s Bar, Parkside Marine, The Midtown Tavern, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2014 and Ye Olde Shack, Brookville; and Country Store Cafe, New Trenton.
Area places not dinged at all included Batesville High School, Batesville Primary School, Dollar General, Hickory Road Inn, KTS Foodmart and The Toros, Batesville; Oldenburg Academy and The Village Store, Oldenburg; Amish Cheese House, Country Cooking, Grannie’s Cookie Jars, Mr. Fudge’s Confectionery and The Smelly Gourmet, Metamora; Haspin Acres and Laurel Elementary and Middle School, Laurel.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.