Two restaurants on the West Shore were recently cited with 17 violations each during their latest inspections from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Brewhouse Grille in Lower Allen Township was inspected on Sept. 19, while Nick’s 114 Cafe in New Cumberland was inspected on Sept. 26. W. L. Kepler Seafood in Lemoyne was also cited for four violations on Oct. 4.

Inspections are completed only once a year by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, unless there is a complaint filed against the facility, said Lydia Johnson, director of the bureau of food safety and laboratories. The department responds to every complaint against a food facility, generally the next day, she said. Johnson said every food facility under the state’s jurisdiction is held to the same standards under the food code.

“Now the complexity will vary widely,” she said. “I always say we inspect the little a.m./p.m. mini-marts, hot dog roller down at the corner all the way up to a restaurant that has a few hundred sit-down meals and does catering. So we do the whole spectrum, but we have the same food code for every facility.”

On the report for the Brewhouse Grille, the inspector noted that dry wiping cloths were being used for multiple tasks, food in the reach-in cooler was held at 55 degrees rather than 41 degrees or below as required, and they observed old food residue on the food contact surface of the mixer and slicer.

At Nick’s 114 Cafe, the inspector noted that a fire extinguisher was stored beside food and equipment in the dry storage area, a food employee in the cooking area was observed changing tasks without proper hand sanitation in between, and food in the refrigeration units was stored without a covering.

The report for W. L. Kepler Seafood noted that the food facility used reduced oxygen packaging for salmon cakes without documenting or monitoring a food safety barrier. Doing so has the potential for Clostridium botulinum or Listeria monocytogenes. The restaurant was also cited for its food employees who were observed not wearing proper hair restraints.

Violations

There is no magic number for how many violations will automatically mark a facility out of compliance with the department. Johnson said that decision is ultimately left up to the inspector. The department gives each inspector a set of guidelines and trains them before sending them out on the job, she said.

If a restaurant fails an inspection, it will receive a letter of warning from the Department of Agriculture, Johnson said. The only time a facility will be shut down after failing an inspection is if the department sees an eminent health hazard to the public, such as an infestation of rats or cockroaches, she said.

After the inspection, the official will sit down with the person in charge, discuss what was out of compliance and give them a certain amount of time to fix each violation and then come back for a follow-up after the time has passed. If it fails again, there is a fee and a charge is filed with the court, Johnson said.

“It’s a non-traffic citation, it’s called,” she said. “We actually go before the magistrate, and we present our case in court, and then the magistrate makes a decision. If they’re found guilty, they have to pay the fine that the magistrate decides on, and they have to pay court costs. And if they continue to have issues, we will file a civil penalty, and we actually have a judge and a hearing at the department of agriculture, and those fines can go up to $10,000.”

Calls to both the Brewhouse Grille and Nick’s 114 Cafe were not returned as of press time.

Email Samantha Madison at smadison@cumberlink.com or follow her on Twitter @SentinelMadison

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