Stomach-churning violations at city’s high-end grocery stores

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Bryan Smith

Inspectors have found 27 violations since 2008 at the Whole Foods on Columbus Avenue and 97th Street.

The Whole Foods on the Upper West Side is a foodie nirvana that sells top-quality cuts of grain-fed beef, pricy produce like organically-grown heirloom tomatoes, and a mouthwatering selection of fine French cheeses.

It’s also been found to have mouse droppings in the loading dock, crusty food gunk on the cold-cut slicers, and lukewarm barbeque ribs and mac and cheese sitting in the prepared food section.

That’s what state food inspectors discovered this year when they descended on the fine food emporium on Columbus Ave. and 97th Street, the New York World website reported Monday.

“It’s actually making sick to hear about mouse droppings and crusting on the meat grind her because I just shopped for some meat and I got bread from the bakery as well,” said Jay Simeone, 40, who lives in the neighborhood. “They really better get their act together and I want to know that they’ve taken care of these violations.”

Those stomach-churning deficiencies were only the most recent of the 27 found by state Department of Agriculture and Markets inspectors since 2008 at a store that caters to well-heeled yuppies with supposedly rarified tastes.

But Whole Foods, with four violations in 2013, was not even close to being the worst offender.

As of July, the grocery store with the most black marks against it in 2013 was the similarly highfalutin Garden of Eden in Brooklyn Heights, with 20, records show.

Among other things, old crusty meat residue was found on numerous surfaces and the seafood area ice machine was covered with mold and grime.

And the store with the most violations since 2008 was the Met Foods on Fulton Street in the Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, with 72, the site found.

That’s for everything from mouse droppings to six actual mouse carcasses that were discovered in the store.

Trader Joe’s was the cleanest grocery chain, according to the survey, with just one deficiency reported since 2008.

The filthiest was Associated, which has 130 stores in the city and which racked up 739 deficiencies in five years.

It was followed by Key Food with 668 violations for the same time period and 447 for C-Town.

The Columbus Avenue Whole Foods did even worse during its 2012 inspections, when state sleuths found mouse droppings near the basement bakery processing area and in the shelves where the cereals, rice and dog food products are sold.

They found more gross gunk on the meat grinders.

And when they couldn’t determine how long the soups had been stewing in the pots, they ordered some 12 pounds of prepared food thrown out as a precaution.

There was no immediate response from Whole Foods spokesman Michael Sinatra, information on the site suggests that the store has addressed the issues – including the persistent mouse poop problem.

csiemaszko@nydailynews.com


Health – NY Daily News

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