A local supermarket was fined $700 plus court costs by Municipal Court Judge Thomas McKeon on Nov. 20 after being found guilty of several health code infractions.
Kearny Environmental Health Inspector Catherine Santangelo said the court action stemmed from the annual inspection of the A & J Seabra Supermarket, 180 Schuyler Ave., on Aug. 18, which uncovered 16 violations involving “critical control points” in food handling.
These included: non-compliance with employee hand washing, blocked access to sink, faulty refrigerator thermometers, cleaning issues, improper food coverage and manager’s failure to demonstrate knowledge of food safety procedures.
These deficiencies resulted in a rating of “conditional satisfactory” for the market.
“When we re-inspected on Sept. 12, we found that there were still a lot of the same violations,” Santangelo said. Those resulted in the issuing of three summonses for person-in-charge failing to show knowledge of food safety regulations, hand-wash sink not accessible and hand cleansers not fully stocked and failure of employees to wash hands.
A third inspection made on Sept. 30 showed sufficient compliance to qualify for a “satisfactory” rating, but the market was still required to deal with the summonses, which led to the court-imposed penalties, Santangelo said.
“We anticipate continued compliance,” she added.
No food from the store was embargoed as a result of the inspection process, Santangelo said. “There have been conditional ratings for this location in the past,” she said, “but not serious enough to order a closing.”
This year, more than 30 local food-related businesses received conditional ratings – some still pending re-inspections – out of a total of “close to 200” in operation, according to Santangelo. “We had a slight increase this year and that may be related to the recession, with businesses cutting back on employees, exterminating services, equipment and employee training.”
Santangelo said James Farm Market on Passaic Ave., was closed for a day after it received an “unsatisfactory” rating in July but the business was forced to shut after it, like several other retailers in the same location, were displaced by a mall development project now in progress.
– Ron Leir