Report: High-end grocery stores have serious health violations

NEW YORK - JUNE 11:  A woman stands in a supermarket aisle June 11, 2009 in New York City.  U.S. retail sales rose during the month of May, according to economists, though much of the increase came from rising gasoline prices.   (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
A new report identifies which of the city’s grocery stores had the most critical deficiencies in the last five years as found by inspectors from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images

A new report identifies which of the city’s grocery stores are the filthiest, and the findings may surprise New Yorkers.

Whole Foods on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side, where customers might expect to find a wide selection of fresh produce and organic foods, had some of the most serious violations between July 2012 and July 2013.

“Poultry grinders encrusted with old food and fresh mouse droppings near the bakery and loading area were among the 12 serious violations by the Whole Foods market on Columbus Avenue,” The New York World reported. It had the third-highest number of violations among all the city’s chain supermarkets during that period, according to the report.

Inspectors from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets visit every grocery store in the state at least once a year. New York World analyzed the data to find which city grocery stores had the most “critical deficiencies” over the last five years.

Other dirty markets include Pioneer Supermarket on Melrose Avenue in the Bronx, where inspectors found “fresh shiny appearing rat droppings.” The store was written up 13 times between July 2012 and July 2013.

The grocery store with the highest number of critical deficiencies in the same period is the Garden of Eden in Brooklyn Heights, with 20 violations. Inspectors found “old encrusted meat residues on food contact surfaces and mold and grime in the area of the seafood area ice machine.”

Despite these findings, supermarkets in the city and state seem to be getting cleaner. A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Markets said the number of violations statewide has dropped 11 percent since 2000. In the city, the number of serious violations has dropped from 1,100 in 2008 to 597 in 2012.

The store with the most violations since 2008 is Met Foods on Fulton Street in Cypress Hills. It had 72 total violations, including mouse droppings, mouse carcasses and rodenticide on bread shelves.

A manager for the store told The New York World that cleaning crews come in daily and a fumigator comes in once a week.

Among the city’s chain supermarkets, Trader Joe’s was the cleanest, with only one violation at its Sixth Avenue location since 2008.

The dirtiest chains were Associated with 739 critical deficiencies at their stores since 2008, Key Food with 668 and C-Town with 447.

Shoppers can use New York World’s interactive tool to look up violations at their local grocery stores.


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