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Most S.F. restaurants get high marks from food safety inspectors. Some did not.

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Six examples of critical food safety violations that could be cited in a restaurant inspection.

City food inspectors have posted their most recent restaurant scores ahead of a holiday season that sees a lot of wining and dining.

The scores show that most restaurants are getting high marks. Out of 1,062 restaurants, the average score was 96.3 out of 100.

But, like most years, a handful of bars, restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations come up short during their bi-annual safety reviews, citing establishments for infractions like employees not washing hands, improperly storing meat in freezers and not properly sanitizing washed dishes.

Restaurant scores: See how every Sioux Falls restaurant fared

For five restaurants, the various violations cited by city inspectors were enough to cost them a passing score of at least 80 in their most recent inspections. 

Sioux Falls Health Manager LuAnn Ford declined to speculate on whether having just five failed inspections in a single year is seen as a positive benchmark, but said it’s the goal of the city to ensure all food-handling businesses are taking steps to ensure licensed eateries and grocery stores aren’t putting the public at risk.

“To put a number on it, I hesitate to do that because it’s a moving target,” she said. “Our goal here too is to not have people below that 80 level.”

The businesses that failed their most recent, unannounced inspections were:

HuHot Mongolian Grill (east side) – 71: Cited on Aug. 16 for soup not being held at high enough temperature, not using proper soup cooling methods, food from dented cans being used, a non-functioning cold holding unit and the hand-washing sink being used to hold water bottles.

Hibachi Grill Supreme Buffet– 74: Cited on Nov. 13 for beef not being adequately cooled to “prevent the growth of harmful bacteria,” raw shrimp being stored above cooked food, inadequate sanitizing practices in the dish-washing area and coolers not functioning properly.

Ruby Navarette’s Tex-Mex Restaurant – 74: Cited on Sept. 19 after an inspector saw an employee touching food items with contaminated hands, using a phone and returning to work, keeping a pack of cigarettes in the kitchen area and improperly handling food, not adequately reheating potentially hazardous food, using inadequate cooling methods and improper storage of chemicals in the food prep area.

The Hilton Garden Inn Downtown – Crave– 77: Cited on July 9 for having no functioning soap dispenser or paper towels in the bar area, an inadequate amount of chlorine sanitizer in the final rinse of the dish machine, door gaps in need of door sweeps to prevent access for insects and rodents into the food service building, and the lack of a hand-drying device in the sushi kitchen and bars.

The 18th Amendment– 78: Cited on Aug. 1 for soups being held at too cool of a temperature, partially-cooked chicken being stored above fully-cooked food, potentially hazardous food not being cooked adequately, and cut vegetables not being held below 41 degrees or below in sandwich prep area.

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To ensure corrective actions are being taken, businesses that fail food safety inspections are required to undergo follow-up inspections beyond the twice-yearly routine inspections required in city ordinance.

The businesses that came up short in their inspections this year have all passed their follow-up inspections with scores of 88 or higher, or, in the case of Hibachi Grill Supreme Buffet, are still awaiting a follow-up inspection.

While owners and managers at HuHot, Hibachi, the Hilton and the 18th Amendment either declined to comment or didn’t return calls seeking comment for this story, Rudy Navarette said Thursday that his restaurant took its failed inspection seriously and immediately enacted a corrective action plan to ensure his employees are properly handling food.

“I’ve been in restaurants my whole life — I grew up around it, and I like to think I know what I’m doing, but that was a bummer,” Navarette said of the inspection that took place on Sept. 19. “But we corrected that and got a good score the second time around.”

Ford said that kind of response to a failed inspection is what the city health office likes to hear, rather than restaurants being resistant to improving practices.

“They need to take ownership of this,” she said. “We want you to see what you did wrong and make it right and then demonstrate to the health department that you’ve corrected what the problems were.”

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