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State orders store cleaned

The Super Saver Food Store is cited for "filthy'' restrooms, broken freezers, used toilet paper strewn outside and other violations.

By JAMIE MALERNEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- A grocery store has been ordered to clean up its act after state inspectors found roaches crawling in food coolers, heavy mold growing on food preparation boards and human feces strewn outside.

Super Saver Food Store, 1400 E Jefferson St., received 34 violations and a "poor" rating after officials from the county and the state Department of Agriculture toured the premises Wednesday. The store remains open, but the manager has been ordered to clean up the human waste immediately and is prohibited from selling food from a broken cooler that was dirty, moldy and full of bugs.

"It was extreme," said John Fruin, chief of the state Bureau of Food and Meat Inspection. "We don't have many places in this kind of condition."

Other violations included in the report are:

Old food, dirt and fungi growing on equipment throughout the store.

Meat stored in coolers without being covered or labeled as to its age.

"Filthy" restrooms that reeked of urine and lacked soap for employees to wash their hands or towels to dry them.

No soap or other signs of sanitation for utensils used in food preparation.

Broken freezers, ceiling tiles and holes in the wall.

Garbage strewn outside the store, including used toilet paper.

Store manager Mike Purohit said Thursday he was busy cleaning up outside the store and will begin working on the inside later. He said he is "confused" by the number of violations the store received because he has been paying companies to clean it and spray for bugs regularly.

"I spend money. It's not my fault," he said, adding that he has little money to hire more help and will have to make improvements himself.

State records show that the store was last inspected in April 2000 and received an average rating. Some of the same problems, in their beginning stages, were noted. Reinspection was set for August 2000. But the store had not been inspected again, records state, despite guidelines recommending that type of business be inspected three times a year.

State administrators declined to say why officials had failed to reinspect the store on time.

"I can't explain why that was not done," Fruin said.

Brooksville police Chief Ed Tincher said Thursday that part of the problem at the store has been intimidation. The last time an inspector went to the site in the fall of last year, he said, the store manager refused to cooperate with her and several "bad guys" outside the store hassled her. The store is known as a hangout for drug dealers.

"It's a shame," said Tincher, who had officers accompany inspectors Wednesday to ensure their safety. "(The store) serves a population that doesn't need to be taken advantage of. They need to provide good quality food."

The store manager denied ever turning away inspectors.

"I don't know about that," he said. "I'm helpful."

Fruin said that authorities will monitor the business to make sure it does not violate orders to stop selling certain foods and to stop using facilities that are broken and dirty. If employees violate the order, they could face fines of up to $500 per incident.

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