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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Golden Pond Restaurant and Party House a Disaster Waiting to Happen Before 260 Sick

348sMouse droppings in the kitchen, grease and food debris throughout the kitchen, spilled and leaking food containers in the floor of a walk-in cooler, mold on the beverage gun holder and a buildup of grease and dust on hood filters.

Steve Orr of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has been reporting on the investigation of the Thanksgiving Day foodborne illness outbreak in Greece, New York has become a painstaking affair, drawn out by the nature of the uncommon pathogens suspected in the case.

At least 260 people were sickened after eating at the Golden Pond Restaurant and Party House on Thanksgiving Day. Four patrons of the restaurant were hospitalized. No deaths from the gastrointestinal illness been reported.

The restaurant was inspected by the health department and ordered closed the day after Thanksgiving. It will remain closed at least until the cause of the illnesses is determined and until shortcomings identified during inspections are rectified.

Golden Pond had a history, quite recent, of food safety violations:

  • On Nov. 1, inspectors listed 18 violations that were classified as blue, or non-critical violations, which do not directly cause foodborne illness, according to health department documentation. Among the violations were mouse droppings in the kitchen, grease and food debris throughout the kitchen, spilled and leaking food containers in the floor of a walk-in cooler, mold on the beverage gun holder and a buildup of grease and dust on hood filters. “Discussed massive cleaning required to eliminate violations and fire hazards. Cooling and reheating and glove use discussed also,” the report concluded. The report also noted that the restaurant was “high risk,” based upon its menu and cooking processes — the more complex, the more risk, according to Ricci.
  • The same inspector returned to the restaurant on Nov. 16 and apparently found an improved situation. The number of blue violations was down to three. The inspector noted that wire rack shelves and the floor of the walk-in cooler had food debris, and the floor area throughout the kitchen needed cleaning, but that the situation did not require a reinspection. Nine days later, though, a different inspector found three of the more serious red violations, which health department documentation describes as relating directly to factors that could lead to foodborne illness.
  • That inspection was conducted on Nov. 25, the day the restaurant was closed. While some of the violations could be attributed to the aftermath of unusually busy service the day before, others seemed to point to longer-term issues. Heavy deposits of food spills and mold were on the walk-in refrigerator floor, a damaged gasket on a walk-in freezer did not allow its door to close tightly, an ice maker had mildew growing inside, knives stored as clean in the knife rack were dirty, heavily rusted shelving required replacement and a pan of rice and carrots was being held at an unsafe room temperature. “Kitchen/store areas are in very poor sanitary condition. A drastic change in improving sanitation and cleanliness needs to occur ASAP. Lighting needs to improve,” the report stated.
  • The inspector from Nov. 25 visited again on Dec. 5, and found one red violation and 16 blue violations. Pans of food that had been in the walk-in cooler the day of the suspended permit — tripe, sausage, potatoes, meatballs, Italian sausage and Polish sausage — were now stored in the walk-in freezer. Those were discarded by the chef at the direction of the health department. The door gasket on the walk-in freezer was still an issue., the kitchen ice maker was rusting on the inside and ice sinks and chiller plates in the bar had lime buildup and “bio-slime” starting to grow, it noted.

Seems like the restaurant should have closed before Thanksgiving.