A Green Township dessert store is facing scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration over alleged unsanitary conditions.
In a publicly posted warning letter dated April 28, FDA inspectors wrote ready-to-eat bakery products manufactured by Gary’s Cheesecakes & Fine Desserts were “prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health.”
Owner Gary Haas told The Enquirer the problems were fixed the day of the last inspection in February. He said that was the last he had heard from the agency.
Most of the violations stem from rodent droppings found throughout the kitchen. During inspections on Jan. 31, Feb. 8 and Feb. 13 at the Crookshank Road store, FDA inspectors found:
- An apparent dead rodent, attached to a glue trap inside an open cardboard box next to the standing mixer.
- Ten apparent rodent droppings with a black, shiny and soft appearance inside a junction between preparation tables where ready-to-eat brownies were being iced.
- Apparent droppings with a black, shiny and soft appearance, too numerous to count, between ingredient bags and directly below a storage rack used to store bulk dry ingredients.
- Apparent insect activity on a glue trap next to an unidentified piece of equipment with an approximately one-inch gap.
- Multiple apparent dead insects attached to two glue traps, adjacent to an oven. In addition, a section of the glue trap was torn, which the report said Haas stated was due to a mouse that chewed through the glue trap to escape when it was caught on the trap.
- Apparent rodent droppings with a black, dull and hard appearance, too numerous to count, inside an enclosed shelf behind boxes containing icing piping bags and on a sheet pan used to store ready-to-eat brownies prior to slicing.
Some equipment in the warning letter available to the public was redacted under a Freedom of Information Act exemption which protects from disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential.”
The owner reported back to the FDA on March 7, the warning letter stated, and said he disposed of glue traps with captured pests, placed new glue traps, removed excrement, cleaned and sanitized areas where excrement was found, added cleaning tasks to his sanitization schedule and will schedule garage door maintenance.
FDA inspectors said the response does not show that the correct actions are being implemented on a continual basis and that operators are effectively excluding pests from the facility. The letter also did not include scheduled garage maintenance, such as a maintenance request or work order, inspectors said.
The 2023 warning letter says this is a repeat observation from the FDA’s 2020 inspection, as apparent excrement was observed on and around an in-use caramel container used as a topping on ready-to-eat desserts, and also on a shelf directly below where plates for the slicing machine are stored.
The letter noted that the response to concerns from the 2020 inspection are the same steps listed in the March 7 response.
“We note that your most recent response includes corrective actions that you previously submitted to FDA on March 8, 2020, in response to FDA’s 2020 inspectional findings. As corrective action to the rodent excrement, your 2020 response stated that you cleaned and sanitized areas exposed to rodent excrement and placed new glue traps,’ the FDA said.
“However, during FDA’s most recent inspection, the investigators observed similar conditions, demonstrating that your corrective actions were inadequate and pest activity continues to persist in your facility.
“Additionally, during the most recent inspection, the FDA investigator discussed with you using a professional pest control service, you stated that you would contact a professional pest control company to inquire about servicing your facility; however, your response did not mention acquiring professional pest control services.”
Haas also reportedly failed to register with the FDA as a food facility, which must be done every other year.
The FDA gave Haas 15 days to correct the issues and report back. Failure to do so could result in legal action.