Restaurants Exposed: Temperatures critical for restaurants of all sizes

June 30, 2017 08:10 PM

Food temperature is critical to your health. Here's why. Cold food is supposed be kept below 45 degrees. And hot food is supposed to be hotter than 140 degrees. Anything in between is in the temperature range health safety experts call “the danger zone” the ideal temperature for bacterial growth that can make you sick.

This week, restaurants from well-known chains to mom and pop shops were cited for food temperature.  The owner of one of those restaurants invited News 10 NBC to go inside with a camera in tow.

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Mark Crane is proud of the business he's built, a business that's become an upstate staple.  Mark's Pizzeria is now in about 50 locations across our area.  But the Penfield location is special to Crane.

"I'm proud of this shop because my deceased brother managed this shop,” said Crane. "This is our flagship." But inspectors recently cited the flagship store with six critical violations - all for food that wasn't cold enough.  Mark says managers quickly found the problem.

"This brand new cooler has a switch on it right here,” said Mark pointing to a switch at the base of the large stainless steel, waist-high refrigeration equipment.  “You can turn it on and you can turn it off.  Someone turned it off by mistake.  But you know what?  We're not perfect. Sometimes the kids make a mistake," he said referencing the 40 young people employed at the Penfield location. 

He believes the cooler was likely off for no more than a couple of hours.  But in the report, the inspector writes there was mold growth on the meatballs. 

“I don't think they were moldy, no," said Mark.

He said it would be highly unusual for the restaurant to have moldy meatballs because the restaurant doesn’t keep them long enough.

“Our meatballs are so good. They turn those things over so fast,” said Mark.

He says the restaurant gets meatballs twice a week. He took News 10 NBC cameras into the freezer showing us how they come from the freezer to the cooler for use.  Is it possible the inspector was mistaken?   Mark won't speculate.

"Usually when the health department comes in we don't talk to them. We do what they say.  They asked us to get rid of the stuff in the cooler and we got rid of it immediately," he said insisting that managers wouldn’t question an inspectors observations.

He also pointed out that every pizzeria has a health safety certified employee on site to make sure standards are met.

At China Panda in Scottsville, inspectors found two critical violations - risk of cross contamination of raw and cooked food and food that wasn't cooled properly.  The owner, Ling Lin told News10 NBC the fix was easy.  She moved raw foods to a different shelf in the fridge. Also, she now cools her soup in smaller pots in the fridge so they'll cool faster. 

That was the corrective action taken at Jo's Diner in Hilton as well. It was cited with three critical violations including food that wasn't cooled properly.  Jo Root, the owner told News10 NBC she now cools her soup in smaller pots too. 

"All three issues were corrected before the inspector left the building,” she said.” He did come back and we passed with flying colors."

If you want to know what inspector’s found at your favorite restaurant, you can find out.

Here's Deanna's do list.

1. Check the restaurants inspection record

2. If you see a problem, report it.


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