While mold, insects, rats and dust may sound like we're listing plagues, these are actually common violations found in supermarkets and grocery stores across Long Island, including Kings Park, state data show.
Patch has pulled together information on grocery store inspections across New York state to create our exclusive interactive map, culled from public data supplied by the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets. Unlike restaurants, which are inspected by the Suffolk County Department of Health, grocers in town are inspected by this state agency.
For Kings Park Patch, we collected data on 58 markets in the Kings Park and San Remo area, ranging from major chain supermarkets to smaller meat or seafood shops, pharmacies and convenience stores.
RELATED: 5 Things You Should Know About Grocery Inspections
In the data above you find results of a store's latest food safety inspection as of Jan. 30, and the location’s past performance. Violations are either listed as "general deficiencies," which inspectors say did not present a heath risk, and "critical deficiencies" that pose a real hazard to customers. One critical violation and the market fails inspection.
How Kings Park Scored
Only one grocery store in town failed in 2012, though it happens to be Kings Park's only local supermarket.
Key Food, at 66 Indian Head Road, failed its inspections twice in 2012, and failed its first inspection of 2013 as well. In its most recent inspection, state workers found two critical deficiencies related to food-stained cutting boards and a vessel used to heat food that wasn't hitting high enough temperatures.
However, previous failed inspections cited mouse droppings in the store.
RELATED: Key Food Health Failures Don't Surprise Locals
Key Food was also slapped with 29 less serious, general violations.
Plum Crazy Gourmet Kitchen had the second-highest number of violations in town, with 15 general deficiencies mostly related to cleanliness, storage and equipment maintenance. The 7-11 on East Northport Road had 12 of these general deficiencies.
As for the cleanest stores in the area, the Kings Park Mini Mart and Jesse James Seafood market both had four general deficiencies, including a citation for Jesse James for storing an ice shovel on the floor.
According to the state, there were 110 inspectors on the state’s payroll in 2012 responsible for about 31,000 retail food stores and around 6,200 food warehouses, wineries and other processors. Delis are included in the department’s inspections if 50 percent or less of their business is selling ready-to-eat food.
"They are our eyes and ears behind the scenes," said Robert Gravani, a professor at Cornell University who trains state inspectors.
Inspectors show up unannounced, and can spend as little as hour or more than a day inspecting a store, said Stephen Stich, Director of Food Safety and Inspection at the department.
The Inspection System
In 29 percent of the 30,372 retail food store inspections conducted statewide in 2012, the inspector found one or more problems that could make customers sick, Patch’s analysis of public records shows.
If an inspector finds a serious hazard to food safety, the store fails the inspection. Our analysis found more than 5,300 stores across the state failed an inspection last year, and more than 1,100 stores failed more than once. The department can fine the store up to $600 for the first critical deficiency, and double that amount for any more critical problems.
The department does more than just hand out fines. Sometimes, inspectors supervise supermarket employees as they correct violations on the spot, such as sanitizing dirty deli slicers, Stich said. Inspectors also hold in-store trainings to educate employees on the importance of food safety.
"These companies want to do things right," Gravani said. "Sometimes they fall down. That’s why you have a regulatory system."
Shoppers should call state inspectors with complaints about their local supermarket, such as spoiled food, Stich said.
You can reach the Long Island and NYC regional office, located in Brooklyn, at 718-722-2876.
But if you think food from the supermarket made you sick, contact your local health department, Stich said.
You can reach the Suffolk County Health Department at 631-854-0000.
Reading Patch on a phone or tablet? Use our mobile map on the go, or visit Patch from a computer to view the full map.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like these everyday delivered right to your inbox or smartphone. Everyday. Sign up for our free newsletter.