WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Mystery food at a Takoma Park meat market, a sewage complaint on a pool table, rodents at a Silver Spring restaurant, food at potentially unsafe temperatures at a Virginia yogurt shop and an Anacostia grocery store were cited in recent health department closure orders.
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Inspectors closed Yogiberry in Reston, Star Halal in Takoma Park, Nahom Market in Silver Spring, Rockville Billiards in Rockvillee, and Anacostia Market in the District.
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All the food establishments passed reinspection and have since reopened.
District Health Dept. says sometimes it's "fine" for frozen food to be stored at 45 degrees
In Washington, inspectors shut down Anacostia Market on Good Hope Road for operating without any water and storing perishable food above the maximum 41 degrees.
We checked their thermometer and ours finding not only eggs but milk and even Hot Pockets, which say keep frozen, all stored at 45 degrees.
When we contacted DC health about what we found, no one answered our concern about the frozen food at 45 degrees.
When we sent follow-up emails asking if they had taken any action to address the frozen food stored at 45 degrees, DC Department of Health spokeswoman said in some cases the city believes "it is fine."
"I think the answer from the health folks is a bit silly.," said food safety expert Doug Powell. "That's a ridiculous answer."
"Technically 45 degrees is not a 'keep frozen" temperature," DOH Spokeswoman Najma Roberts said. "However if the product is still frozen solid at 45 degrees, (because sometimes products vary) it is okay."
The DOH spokeswoman did not answer our follow-up question about what products the District believes keep frozen at 45 degree temperatures.
Powell, a food safety professor at Kansas State University, says "basic high school physics" rules out any food staying frozen when stored at 45 degrees and says determining at what point it begins to melt would be difficult to monitor.
"It doesn't necessarily create a food safety risk," Powell said. "Those ingredients should be cooked previously."
The FDA recommends freezer temperatures at zero degrees or lower, specifically sets a maximum temperature of 41 degrees, but also allows exceptions as long as the food remains frozen.
"To me it is probably m ore of a quality issue and not a food safety issue," Powell said.
The DC Department of Health also did not address our question regarding any action DOH may have taken based upon the 45 degree refrigerator.
The manager at Anacostia Market told us they've called in a repair man and have worked to correct all violations.
Reston closure for Yogurt at risky temperatures
Inspectors shut down the Yogiberry on South Lakes Drive in Reston citing yogurt and milk at stored at 44 degrees instead of the required maximum of 41 degrees. And just like when Inspectors were there, the store did not have anyone trained in food safety when we were there.
Rockville closure after sewage on pool table complaint
Inspectors received a complaint about sewage on a pool table at Rockville Billiards on Veirs Mill Road in Rockville.
Officials closed it down saying they couldn't determine what the substance was but that something was leaking from the restaurant above it.
Flies on raw meat, no hot water at meat Takoma Park market
At Star Halal in Takoma Park, inspectors shut down the meat market citing 18 violations including no one licensed in food safety, food wrapped in packing tape, flies on raw meat and meat handled with bare hands. Inspectors also cited Star Halal for no hot water.
We tested the water and it was well over Maryland's required minimum of 100 degrees.
Star Halal says they've corrected the violations including a citation for having unknown food from an unapproved facility.
A worker took us into the cooler showing us lamb carcasses with USDA inspection stamps.
Silver Spring restaurant cited for rodents and bare hand food handling
Inspectors cited Nahom Market on Eastern Avenue in Silver Spring with twenty two violations including rodent droppings, un-refrigerated eggs and workers handling food with their bare hands.
We were invited in but when we asked to check the cleanliness of the kitchen, we were kicked out.