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State cites 52 Western New York food businesses for deficiencies

State inspectors fanned out to retail food establishments across Western New York last fall, looking for unclean sinks and utensils, missing thermometers and improperly stored chemicals, among other problems.

They found them at 52 places, everywhere from a meat and cheese kiosk in a Clarence mall to a fruit farm in Niagara County.

But mainly the inspectors cited problems at neighborhood delis and corner markets, mostly in Buffalo. At least 18 small delis had deficiencies, accounting for about one-third of the cited businesses, according to an analysis of the inspection data by The Buffalo News.

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DATABASE: Retail food inspections in Western New York

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Convenience stores with gas pumps, and also those without gas service like the three cited 7-Eleven stores, accounted for one-fourth of the cited businesses.

Inspectors cited only a handful of grocery stores, with only one Wegmans and one Tops Market cited for deficiencies.

Six of every 10 cited establishments are in Buffalo. But establishments in the suburbs and rural areas also had issues.

The state cited the Salamanca Save-A-Lot store with 19 deficiencies, the most of any store.

In all, the state Department of Agriculture & Markets recorded 531 deficiencies at 52 stores between Sept. 1 and Nov. 25 in Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.

Most of the deficiencies – about nine of every 10 – were found in Erie County stores.

Overall, the inspectors from the department’s Division of Food Safety and Inspection found 49 different deficiencies at the cited businesses.

Thirty-four of the 52 businesses with deficiencies were cited for their interior floors, walls, ceilings or fixtures not suitably built, well maintained or clean – one of the most commonly cited problems.

Thirty-four businesses also were cited for not storing or displaying food in a manner that prevents contamination.

Thirty-three businesses were cited because their handwashing facilities were improperly installed or maintained, according to the inspections data.

Establishments are typically inspected once a year, a department spokesperson said. The stores cited for “critical deficiencies” are reinspected to ensure violations are corrected. Among the critical deficiencies were 20 citations for “insect, rodent, bird or vermin activity likely to result in product contamination.”

Inspectors cited 15 businesses for “equipment cleaning or sanitizing facilities inadequate for establishments handling potentially hazardous foods,”

Ten times the inspectors found “insect-infested foods or ingredients.”

Five times the inspectors found “potentially hazardous foods not stored at safe temperatures.”

email: msommer@buffnews.com and plakamp@buffnews.com