Las Palmas closes down after health inspection

By Alexa Bakalarski / Assistant News Editor

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After conducting seven inspections over the past three months, the Allegheny County Health Department ordered the Atwood Street staple, Las Palmas Mexican Grocery Store, to close down Tuesday.

The most recent three-hour inspection, which took place Tuesday, found 12 health code violations, including rat contamination and cockroaches.

Four of Las Palmas’ 12 recent violations were found to be high-risk. The violations include chew marks from animals on food packages still sitting on shelves — including pasta, beans, rice and cookies — high temperatures for food in the deli coolers and roaches in food preparation areas.

The Health Department report lists a re-inspection as “pending,” but lists no re-inspection date.

The inspector also observed a woman from a large white van bringing in cakes for Las Palmas to sell, according to the report. Because the Health Department is not certain if the woman operates out of a permitted kitchen, the department ordered the store to temporarily stop selling food from that vendor.

The Health Department inspector found small amounts of dried food debris on the front blade of the deli slicer, the top basin of the meat grinder, on utensils in the clean dish sink and along the blade of the meat saw. The inspector noted none of the three appliances were used on the day of the inspection.

The inspector also observed adult German and American roaches in food preparation areas, as well as rat droppings along a bottom grocery shelf and numerous fruit flies throughout Las Palmas.

The Health Department conducted an initial inspection of Las Palmas on Aug. 3, when the store received 13 violations — two of which were high-risk.
Re-inspections were scheduled and conducted on Aug. 16, Aug. 18, Sept. 14 and  Sept. 26 . The Health Department inspected and permitted Las Palmas to stay open after the first three inspections, but placed a “consumer alert” sign on Las Palmas after the Sept. 14 inspection.

After finding almost all of the violations from the last inspection corrected, the Health Department removed the “consumer alert” sign after an inspection on Sept. 26  and gave Las Palmas an “inspected and permitted” sign.

The Health Department visited Las Palmas again on Oct. 27, and served up 11 health violations, including three high-risk. The violations included cross-contamination prevention, too-high temperatures for food and pest management. The Health Department placed an “inspected and permitted” sign on Las Palmas, pending the re-inspection conducted Tuesday, which the store failed.

Melissa Wade, a spokesperson for the Health Department, said she was not able to comment on whether Las Palmas would be allowed to reopen if it passes another reinspection. The Health Department has not yet listed a reinspection date on its website.

Gabriel Berumen, who is listed on the Health Department’s report as the contact person for Las Palmas, did not respond to several phone calls Thursday afternoon seeking comment about the closure. Las Palmas was closed Thursday and its doors were locked. No one was present at the property.

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