Public Health Inspection reports on area grocery stores

Public Health Inspection reports on area grocery stores

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An analysis of health inspections of Nashville grocery stores reveals some of the busiest in town have the worst health inspections, ranging from food at the wrong temperature to rodent dropping.

News4 Investigates found nine stories had failed health inspections since 2018, including two locations that failed inspections twice.

The locations include:

The Publix at 6614 Charlotte Pike, the Kroger at 61 East Thompson Lane, the Whole Foods at 4021 Hillsboro Pike (with two failed inspections), the Kroger at 3930 Clarksville Highway (with two failed inspections), the Piggly Wiggly at 2317 Dickerson Road, the Kroger at 143 McGavock Pike, the Kroger at 5705 Charlotte Pike, the Kroger at 711 Gallatin Avenue, and the Turnip Truck at 701 Woodland.

Kroger stores had the most failed inspections, but they are also the largest chain in Middle Tennessee.

News4 Investigates was granted access by Kroger to follow Will Peppers, area supervisor for food safety for the state department of agriculture, to see what he looks for during an inspection.

Peppers calls the deli, bakery and food preparation areas of a grocery store the “highest risk areas.”

During the inspection of the Kroger location at 4400 Lebanon Road, Peppers did find some problems.

In the bakery, in a storage compartment next to an oven where no food was stored, he found rodent droppings.

“It's rodent excrement. That just needs to be cleaned up,” Peppers said.

Melissa Eads, spokeswoman for Kroger, answered all our questions.

“At one point they looked like they found what looks like some kind of droppings. You never want to see that,” said News4 Investigates.

“The inspector said it looked old, that it was underneath something - that we need to get clean and sweep out,” Eads said.

In the inspection, Peppers also found cheese at the front of a display that was not cold enough and required that all the product in the front be thrown out.

News4 Investigates also found it also occurred at the Kroger at 61 East Thompson Lane, and an entire cart full of lettuce had to be thrown away. 

Entire cart of salad had to be thrown out because of wrong temperature

Entire cart of bagged lettuce and salad had to be thrown out because of wrong temperature

Peppers said it was likely that the display was just filled too full, so the cheese in the back was at the proper temperature while the front cheese was not.

“Seeing that today - that had to have been a concern,” said News4 Investigates.

“When you look at the temperature in the case - we're right where we're supposed to be. But when you (test the temperature) in just a few of the items that are in the front of that cold case, they weren't quite at temperature,” Eads said.

News4 Investigates found by far, improper temperatures of food, and dirty slicing equipment in the deli, were the most frequent error found in the failed inspections in all the stores.

“Obviously if we have critical issues, and we have an inspection, we have to take immediate action

A lot of those things that can be found on the inspection can be taken care of right on the spot,” Eads said.

Eads said Kroger doesn’t just rely on state inspections, as they bring in their own private company each month – at each store - to perform the same scrutiny.

“Obviously, we just have to continue to coach and teach and help our associates understand treat this like your own home - your own kitchen,” Eads said.

News4 Investigates also shared our findings with Turnip Truck, Publix, Whole Foods and Piggly Wiggly. Their responses are below.

From Kim Totzke, chief operating officer for the Turnip Truck:

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to respond to your upcoming segment.  We are aware of the inspection in question in 2018.  We absolutely appreciate and value the health department and their commitment to food safety for all of us.  We not only fell short of the expectations of the inspector that day, we also failed our own standards.  The refrigeration repair team was at this location during the inspection, already fixing the temperature issues resulting from an isolated equipment problem. The other concerns were addressed immediately with our team, and additional company inspection practices were implemented.  We pride ourselves on delivering a healthy experience to our customers and believe our recent inspection score of 98 is more reflective of our core values.”

From Brenda Reid, community relations manager with Publix:

Food safety is a top priority at Publix Super Markets.  Our goal is to never disappoint our customers.  When food safety inspections occur, we always take the opportunity to learn from these inspections.  For this inspection, we certainly fell below our high standards and missed the mark our customers expect of us.  Our leadership and support teams worked with the store to verify all necessary corrections were addressed, reiterating proper procedures with our associates to prevent this from happening again.

 

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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