Food & Drink

‘Unrecognizable’ moldy food: Why this local restaurant failed a health inspection

File photo
File photo

Drain flies, “unrecognizable” moldy food, grime, black mildew and mold.

Those were just some of the violations a Department of Health and Environmental Control inspector found during a recent health inspection at a North Myrtle Beach restaurant.

Restaurant inspections help identify potential food safety problems, safeguard public health and ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with a state’s sanitation and food safety procedures. Here’s the top ten violations found in South

Empire Fire Mongolian Grill, located at 4036 Highway 17 S., landed a 61 and received a C grade after a routine inspection was conducted July 11. Establishments that score below 70 are considered to have failed the inspection, but still receive a C, which is the lowest grade possible.

The low score came after the inspector found multiple violations in the restaurant. According to an inspection report, there were some food items deemed unsafe for use.

"Unrecognizable foods" molded in the walk-in cooler at Empire Fire Mongolian Grill. July 11, 2018 - Courtesy DHEC

Gnats were inside food in a cooler and “unrecognizable” moldy food was in the walk-in cooler, the report says.

In addition, drain flies were seen throughout the kitchen and dish area.

The inspector found a buildup of grime and mildew on the interior and sides of an ice machine, as well as on one of the sinks. Mold was on shelves inside the walk-in cooler and a “heavy” buildup of grime and debris covered all shelving and tables in the kitchen, according to the report.

More grime, mildew and debris were on the walls and ceilings in walk-in coolers, the inspector notes, adding that it was found throughout several areas of the kitchen, including the walls.

Plumbing under hand sinks in the restrooms also had a buildup of black mildew.

Improper food storage pictured at Empire Fire Mongolian Grill on July 11, 2018. - Courtesy DHEC

DHEC says Empire Fire Mongolian Grill also failed to prevent contamination from the premises.

“Boxed foods stored on floor in walk-in freezer and foods not covered. Bulk food bags not closed securely during storage. Boxed noodles stored on floor under kitchen shelf,” the report states.

The restaurant’s score did increase to an 83 and remains a C grade after a follow-up inspection was conducted July 12. Another follow-up inspection is required by July 20.

Grade A: Acceptable to very good, 88-100 points

Grade B: Marginal to acceptable, 87-78 points

Grade C: Poor to marginal, 77-70 points. Establishments that score below 70 are considered to have failed the inspection, but still receive a C.

Note: Restaurants can score above 77 and still receive a C grade because DHEC allows inspectors to downgrade restaurants to the next lowest letter grade if priority violations continue to persist in follow-up inspections.

Michaela Broyles: 843-626-0281, @MichaelaBroyles