Exclusive: Food sting finds tainted meat, rotten groceries

1:19 PM, Aug 15, 2010   |    comments
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Dubbed "Operation Wholesomeness," the program was launched in May as an answer to a growing number of food-related violations uncovered by the Cleveland Department of Public Health.

"This is a special program to look at those perishable products and to make sure people are provided healthy food," said Health Department Director Matt Carroll.

"We see problems in all kinds of places. I wouldn't say it's one neighborhood over another."

The first batch of test results isn't exactly appetizing.
At the Church Square Supermarket, 7973 Euclid Avenue, inspectors found a whole turkey on the shelf that was a year past its expiration date.

The item was among the two-and-a-half shopping carts full of expired or rotten groceries inspectors pulled from shelves.
The supermarket was also cited for not properly training butchers and stockers about food safety, not cleaning cutting blocks, and not fixing leaking faucets in the produce storage area, records show.

Church Square, which was already on probation for previous violations, was fined $47,250 in Cleveland Municipal Court.

Inspectors found tainted ground beef patties at the Marc's supermarket at Kamm's Corner.

"I wouldn't feel comfortable eating them myself, I can say that much," said Marc's Assistant Manager Ryan Cline. "We want to rectify the situation. We don't want to endanger our customers or any of our consumers at any time."

At the Express Food Market, 10134 Madison Avenue, a chicken and cheese burrito was found to be loaded with bacteria. The store blamed it on human error.

Dangerous levels of bacteria that exceeded the state limit were also found in the ground beef at the M.L.K. SavMor, 3750 Martin Luther King Drive.

But just a few weeks later, the inspector found the store cleaned up its act in a follow-up inspection.

"He came here and took meat and everything was okay," said store spokesman Marvin Arabi.

The health department targeted stores where it had received complaints, but officials say the goal is to test food wherever it is sold in the city.

Inspectors will get a chance next month, when the department expects another food sting.


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