Failing Grades for Key Food, Kings Park's Only Supermarket

Grocery store has failed three consecutive health inspections. And based on local comments, folks expected as much.

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Most locals would agree that Kings Park is a small town tucked away in a sprawling suburbia. Unlike other retail hubs, the community has a handful of restaurants, fewer hardware stores and one local supermarket, which has failed state health inspections three times in a row.

And locals aren't surprised.

In the two inspections the market had in 2012, and its most recent inspection in January, workers from the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets slapped the Key Food market with critical violations, deemed health hazards, leading to failed inspections. Most recently, the store failed due to dirty cutting boards that had food residue caked in the scoring marks and having a hot food holding unit that wasn't reaching a high enough temperature. The market was also cited for 29 general deficiencies, not considered health risks, for issues related store cleanliness, among others.

RELATED: 5 Things You Should Know About Grocery Inspections

However, both of the market's failures in 2012 were related to mouse droppings found in the store. In its July 30, 2012 inspection, state workers found rodent feces in a meat walk-in box, under a work table in a produce prep room, on the floor in the compactor room, under the motor room staircase, in the dairy box and under racks in the produce walk-in box. Before that, on March 13, 2012, inspectors found more than 200 mouse droppings in the stock room.

Key Food corporate parent Hempstead-based Dan's Supreme Supermarkets declined to be interviewed for this story, citing a policy of not speaking to the press.

Patch has accessed the data as part of a region-wide project culling together information on grocery store inspections across New York state to create an exclusive interactive map.

RELATED: Which Kings Park Grocer is the Grossest

The string of failures doesn't necessarily represent a chronic pattern for the local market, which happens to be Key Food's easternmost storefront. Before the 2012 failures, the last failed inspection happened on Nov. 1, 2007, due to mouse droppings discovered in the facility.

We did find a pattern, however, when we asked locals in our Facebook following to talk about Key Food.

In just a few hours after we posed a question about the Kings Park market online we had 55 comments, and the only positive sentiment that came out of them related to the workers and not the store itself.

"It's disgusting and I refuse to go in there, even in an emergency," said Cathy Galise. "It should be condemned."

Cynthia Grimley also didn't pull any punches. "It's terrible!!!! I hate going there – but like most of KP I do go there in a pinch!!!! I would rather ShopRite or Meat Farms in Commack!!!!" she said.

"Will only go in a pinch," said Nina Jankowski. "I've seen and reported expired items in the dairy section one too many times! Way overpriced as well. Trader Joe's, IGA or Fairway would be nice."

Jankowski was one of many wishing discount grocery Trader Joe's would take over the space.


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John K Massaro March 15, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Key Food has always been notorius for the random gallon of chunky milk...
Rose March 15, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Dan March 15, 2013 at 05:14 PM
@Cat ... my point exactly.
Dr. Remulak March 15, 2013 at 05:20 PM
It's not random JK, they see you coming.
John K Massaro March 15, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Too expensive, too far out of the way for Kings Park locals, very limited selections, thier sales aren't sales & they don't double-coupon...
barbara s March 15, 2013 at 06:15 PM
i always get fresh milk from key food.
JIM March 15, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Dee March 15, 2013 at 08:21 PM
These issues with Key Food have been going on for years, even before Waldbaums went out. It has only gotten worse, One time last year, I went in there for hummus, yogurt, cereal and red peppers. I was amazed to find that the peppers all had rotten parts to them, and every hummus and yogurt I wanted were expired longer than a week. We have gotten stuck there before, but never like this. So, I filled my cart.. with all the expired hummus and yogurt, rotten red peppers and a couple of boxes of expired cereal and brought them to the office. I told them that this was a disgrace and that they should be ashamed of themselves. Elderly people from the Senior Center are bussed there every Wednesday. Many can't see, or readily be able to go back with expired merchandise. They looked at me with an unnerving indifference. I have RARELY found fresh vegetables there. In fact, when they put them out they are wilted and look like they are days old. To add insult to injury, they inflate the prices for this garbage. If you have ever had a toddler who has had to go to the bathroom there, you would see the inspection reports are true. It is DISGUSTING back there. I firmly believe in supporting the local businesses in this town. Sadly, not this one. I don't mind traveling, or paying a little more in a pinch, to spare myself and my family of this horrible excuse for a supermarket. I hope they are replaced with a supermarket with higher standards and respect for customers.
John K Massaro March 15, 2013 at 08:53 PM
150% agree with you, Laura. Kings Park is the type of community that deserves a market like a Fairway...
Rose March 15, 2013 at 09:37 PM
DEAR PATCH, would you please interview the Key Food manager. He would be the person responsible. Where does his family shop. You guys should follow him & do an expose'e piece.
Donna D March 15, 2013 at 11:59 PM
Do not understand how they fail inspections but nothing is done about it. Feel bad for those who cannot go somewhere else to shop. IGA is a great store, but a lot of the day to day groceries that are needed are not really carried in that store. A minature version of Stop and Shop would be wonderful there.
melissa March 16, 2013 at 02:14 AM
I worked at Key Food in the early/mid 90s in HS and they failed back then too. I cannot even TELL you about the things in the back room. Just disgusting. I haven't shopped in there since knowing what that back room looks like.
Daniel Tobias March 16, 2013 at 07:50 PM
The smell coming from the doors to the back of the store by the dairy dept should tell the whole story. The place is filty, it smells like rotting food, and it has been like this for years. Unless it comes pre-packaged, dont buy anything there. I would love to see any of the previously mentioned markets come to Kings Park but I dont think they will because of the out-of-the-way location. Shoprite, down buy Costco, is the best store around, in my opinion.
MMG March 16, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Please get rid of this supermarket
MMG March 16, 2013 at 08:22 PM
What is the fine for all of these problems? It does not seem to phase them. We need a Good supermarket. We deserve better!
Michelle B March 17, 2013 at 08:56 PM
I once had an employee warn me not to buy frozen goods because they had thawed when the freezer broke and were left to re-freeze for sale. Produce is awful and deli is smelly and gross!!
Diane March 18, 2013 at 12:51 AM
ALDI in Lake Grove is the place to shop. Definitely worth the drive! I have gone to Key Food when I was in a pinch, but after reading this artice I will NEVER go there again!!!
knee jerk March 18, 2013 at 04:10 PM
I hope you people in KP get a clean supermarket someday so you stop cutting through Commack to get to one.Maybe Bob Creighton can make that a campaign slogan: "I will remove the blighted properties and supermarkets thoughout the town"
Daniel Tobias March 19, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Dear Knee Jerk, What exactly do you mean by "YOU PEOPLE" and "CUTTING THROUGH COMMACK"? Are we different because of the town we live in? Is Commack a PRIVATE Gated Community? If you think lesser of the residents of Kings Park then please keep your comments to the Commack Patch or to yourself.
KP March 19, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Don't worry about Knee Jerk, Mr. Tobias. Kings Park blows Commack away. Sure we have some community dissent - show me a town that doesn't, but we have plenty of awesomeness that is rarely seen in other towns! The zip code 11754 has some of the most beautiful land and parks on Long Island. Really, can anything in Commack top the view from the Kings Park bluff? A two-minute drive or a nice little walk, and we see incredibly stunning scenery all the way from our most western border to our most eastern border. We have a Main Street which, although in need of some obvious TLC, is what every big Main Street-less town craves. We have a tight-knit community that comes together when the going is real tough, and has incredible fundraisers and a neighbor-helping-neighbor spirit that is unparalleled. We have quick access to the parkway, and a train station, which makes us a town from which commuting is a piece of cake. We have a top-notch school district, which may have a little issue here and there, but, again, show me a school district that doesn't. Further, although Key Food failed some health inspections, so did the supermarkets in big, boring Commack! Therefore, Mr. Tobias, Knee Jerk is just jealous of us! Poor thing bought in the wrong town! KP Pride all the way!
ChudleyQ March 19, 2013 at 05:16 PM
It's pretty hard to defend Key Food. I've had some pretty bad experiences there (refrozen ice cream, expired eggs and milk). but as has been said repeatedly, it's the only place in town. As much as i don't like going there, driving five miles for one or two items doesn't make much sense. Big shopping is done in Shoprite by Commack Road and the LIE. Big store, good prices, very clean. Everything Key Food is not. Did the author of the article attempt to interview the manager of the Key Food? I'd love to know what his take is on the cleanliness of the store, and any plans he or she might have to improve going forward. The store has really gotten bashed here....it's time for the manager to address the issues head on, both in cleaning it up and in responding to the comments.
Stevo March 19, 2013 at 05:39 PM
KP also has some of the worst gossips I've ever known.
knee jerk March 20, 2013 at 12:25 AM
@KP: Unfortunately, while the bluff is in Kings Park, its' a Town of Smithtown park, giving all residents of TOS equal access, even those from Commack. That may be the only time I pass through Kings Park, to get to the bluff a couple of times a year.Don't forget to mention the beautiful landfill and MSF in Kings Park and some of the most blighted land along Old Northport rd and Lawrence Ave, and the blighted hospital grounds and abandoned buildings on two main roads into town,all in KP.I don't want to get picky but lets include all.As far as buying a house in the "wrong" town, I would say we both did, there are a lot better places to live on this Island. Commack is a convienient, but certainly not a ist choice place to live.
John K Massaro March 20, 2013 at 01:35 AM
You make a pretty valid point there. I'd love to hear what the manager of Key Food has to say about these findings. Perhaps putting him on the public "hot seat" might help in changing some things for the better? Still thinking Kings Park deserves a better quality supermarket than Key Food, regardless of how clean the place is or not...
Daniel Tobias March 20, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Dear Knee Jerk, Why is it that when you go to the Bluff you PASS through Kings Park but when I go to Waldbaums, King Kullen, or Shoprite I am CUTTING through? What street do you live on in Commack that makes you feel that you bought in the wrong town? If you have such negative feelings about Kings Park and the route necessary to access those T.O.S. Parks within, why dont you go to one of the Beautiful T.O.S. parks in Commack? Town of Smithtown residence are all welcome to any and all Town of Smithtown parks but your, I'm better than you, attitude is not! Commack, like Kings Park, has its High and Low attributes as does any town. If you're so unhappy with Commack and it's neighbors to the north then list your house, sell it, and go find your paradise. I really do hope you find it.
knee jerk March 20, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Danny boy: Cut, pass, travel, drive, move,meander, speed,fly etc, etc. What's the difference. By the way, I only go to the Bluff to feed the seagulls, something I can do at any landfill.
Daniel Tobias March 22, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Dear Knee Jerk, All I want is answers to the questions that I asked. It seems that you are very unhappy with your surroundings and I would like to know why. The T.O.S. landfill take debris from all of the Smithtown residence, even Commack, so you should be a little more appreciative of the people of Kings Park for that service, and please DO NOT take liberties with my name because it would be very easy for me to reciprocate.
knee jerk March 23, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Danny: You want answers, I'll give you answers, but you can't handle the truth. (sic: Jack Nickelson to Tom Cruise)
Daniel Tobias March 23, 2013 at 03:55 PM
ah, yeah......thats what I thought, no answers.
Stevo March 24, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.


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