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Tabler Cafe Cited For Three Health Violations

A recent restaurant inspection revealed three health code violations by the Tabler Cafe that included failure to monitor food temperatures, keep temperatures logs and have sneeze guards.

Among the violations was a failure to have an appropriate sneeze guard.  According to the report by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, bins of raspberries and blueberries were found openly displayed at the front counter subject to patron contamination. The crepe station with raspberries and blueberries could have easily been contaminated, because the “single vertical piece of Plexiglas” was inadequate to protect against contamination, the report said.

Unprotected and unpackaged food is susceptible to patrons and employees who may be suffering from a disease that is transferable through food.

According to Dr. Adrian Popp, an infectious disease expert at Long Island Infectious Disease Associates, there are some common bacteria that are not particularly harmful. However, he added, “If a patron or an employee has an upper respiratory illness and contaminates the food by sneezing or coughing, the virus may survive on the food depending on how long the food is on display.”

Sophomore Saira Ahmed grimaced when told about the code violations at the cafe.  The 19 -year-old economics major lives in Roth Quad, but sometimes orders crepes and coffee from the Tabler Cafe. “It’s a little scary,” Ahmed said.  “But it’s a college campus, if you don’t get sick [in the cafe], you’ll get sick somewhere else.”

The school has made improvements.  “We installed proper sneeze guards as soon as we received them, which was within about two weeks,” said Angela Agnello, marketing and communications director for the Faculty Student Association, which oversees campus dining.  “Logs and procedures were established to record and monitor food temperatures during the transport of product from Roth Food Court.”

There was no word on whether the crepe station was shut down or whether they continued to make them during the two weeks.

Tabler Cafe received two other code violations for failure to properly monitor food temperatures. A bayonet thermometer, a tool used to measure the temperature of thicker foods such as stock pots or soups from vendor Au Bon Pain, was also unavailable. In addition, there were no food logs to monitor the temperature of potentially hazardous foods transported from Roth Food Court.

Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHF), according to the Food and Drug Administration, are foods that are natural or synthetic and require temperature control because they are in a form capable of supporting Salmonella enteritidis, rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms, or the growth and toxin production of Clostridium botulinum.

Agnello said there are quality assurance plans in place to control risk factors, including temperature logs for point of entry of potentially hazardous foods and storage units.  Food service employees must wash their hands five to six times per hour and are instructed to leave their station, if possible, to sneeze or cough.  Employees are to use a tissue to cover their mouth, wash their hands, and change gloves prior to returning to their station. Employees with flu symptoms are not to report to work and must be “fever free” for 24 hours.

Merrily LeBlanc, 18, a pre-nursing major, said she eats at the Tabler Cafe “every now and then.” Although LeBlanc was “grossed out” by the code violations, she also said “I would eat there again if they fixed it.”

Without proper temperature controls, it’s difficult for food mangers to determine whether the temperature should be adjusted or if food should be discarded.

According to Dr. Popp, temperature controls are important. If the temperature is kept too low “there is a likelihood you’re serving bacteria with your food.”  Lower temperatures allow bacteria to multiply and grow.

This was the first offense for Tabler Cafe.

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