The Burlington Board of Health issued warnings to two local businesses during a meeting last Wednesday, one for improper trash disposal and another for violating the food code by using improper containers for storage.
The first issue concerned Foodland Halal Market at 120 Cambridge Street.
Health Agent Marlene Johnson explained that the business was improperly discarding food and other rubbish, which was accumulating behind the shop and creating a health hazard. She said insects and rodents could be attracted to food that is not properly contained in a dumpster.
Johnson said the business had been previously warned about the trash situation. She also had pictures from a July 17 visit that showed rubbish piled up behind the business.
A representative from the shop said that when the pictures were taken it was in the lead-up to Ramadan, a very busy time for the shop. He added that at Johnson's request he had purchased a rodent-proof container and that the rubbish would be properly taken care of moving on.
Board Member Terry McSweeny made a motion for a $50 fine but it was not seconded by any other members.
At Johnson's request the board issued a warning ticket to Foodland Halal Market, which does not does carry a fine but does place the incident into the business's record.
The second warning was issued to Pizzeria Villafranca, 5 Center Street.
Johnson told the board that Pizzeria Villafranca has been using paint buckets from Home Depot to store food in violation of the food code. She explained proper containers, those specifically designed and approved for food storage, must be used to protect the public health. Those containers won't bleach into food, are easier to clean and are more sanitary in general.
"When purchase containers at a hardware store they not up to accepted standards," Johnson said.
Johnson added that the improper food containers were first noticed during a Feb. 3, 2012, at which time the owners were advised to stop using them. On a July, 19 inspection they were still in use.
Owner Jimmy Sacca said he had been using the storage containers to store cheese because they were listed as "multi-purpose." However, he did say he would have new containers next week that meet the health standards.
The harshest words on the issue came from board member Dr. Ed Weiner.
"We've been here before," he said to Sacca. "I'm sure its not on purpose but it could be a matter of education. How many weeks or months should we shut you down so you can learn the food code? that's what its coming to. We don't want you here [in front of the board]. People like your food, but we have to ensure when they eat there it is safe. This bothers me and if this continues I don't think we need a Villafranca in Burlington."
Weiner said if the problem continues, he'd like to see the restaurant shut down for some period of time.
McSweeny disagreed, saying shutting a business down was not the accepted approach.
"We don't just shut businesses down for a food code violation, we fine them," he said. "I don't see why you are picking on this one business."
Johnson recommended a $50 fine and an order to remove all of the containers. In the end the board issued a warning with the condition that all food be in approved containers by the next inspection on Aug. 31.
This article was written with Burlington's Cable Access Television. Watch the full meeting on BCAT's website by clicking here.