NYC Health Dept inspectors fine bagel shop over poppy seeds on floor
posted at 2:06 pm on May 7, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s team of crackerjack health inspectors has scored another victory for cleanliness. The city health department has fined a Brooklyn bagel shop $1,650 because the floor of his bakeshop is coated in sesame and poppy seeds during working hours.
The New York Post quips:
The owner of B&B Empire Bagel Cafe—who appealed the violations and lost at two separate hearings—says the inspectors must have holes in their heads.
How is he supposed to make seeded bagels without some of the tiny goods spilling onto the ground?
That is for the inspectors to know and for 59-year-old owner Alex Gormakh to find out. He should just consider himself lucky that Bloomie’s food police didn’t tag him with additional citations for tempting New Yorkers to purchase cream cheese, which is a known enemy in his war on trans fats.
Having lost his appeal to the city, Gormakh is pleading his case in the court of public opinion, telling the Post, “Look, a few seeds are always going to be dropped when you are dipping the bagel in the seeds. They don’t all stick like glue.”
The article quotes another area bagel maker who supports Gormakh’s contention, but the city remains unmoved. In fact, a Health Department spokesperson reportedly told the bagel shop owner that the fines relate to mouse droppings found in the area of “a heavy accumulation of seeds” on Oct. 23, 2011.
When the baker pointed out that he had received high cleanliness marks under identical conditions two months prior to that inspection and since, on April 5, 2012, his arguments fell on deaf ears.
Reluctantly, he and his partner son have invested $900,000 in larger stainless steel preparation tables (with an eye toward better seed containment). They have also bought an expensive water-filter vacuum to suck up the seeds from the floor.
Gormakh, who emigrated here from Russia in 1995, concludes, “If you want to work you have to pay.” Inadvertently channeling Yakov Smirnoff, he adds, “In Russia, they call it corruption.” Sorry to spoil your joke, Mr. Gormakh, but here they call it the same thing.
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