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Moldy fruit, toxic sanitizer lead to failed hospital restaurant health inspections

DENVER -- In the course of several investigations into health inspections at local restaurants, local hospital restaurants and cafes are also failing inspections.

While sifting through the monthly inspection reports from Tri-County Health -- covering Douglas, Adams, and Arapahoe counties -- the FOX31 Problem Solvers were surprised to discover hospital cafeterias with multiple, critical violations.

Manna at Castle Rock Adventist Hospital

Castle Rock Adventist Hospital’s restaurant Manna was featured about a year ago.

Award-winning Chef Daniel Skay offered a tour of the restaurant that he said redefined how people eat inside a hospital. But in October, a surprise critical item inspection found eight critical violations.

They included moldy strawberries found in the refrigerator, raw egg shells stored near blueberries and toxic sanitizer measuring more than 400 parts per million.

“If it’s above 200, it becomes too toxic and you can transfer that toxic residue onto food items,” said Brian Hlavacek, the environmental health director for the Tri-County Health Department.

Manna was also found to be storing food in the “danger zone,” which is above 41 degrees and less than 136 degrees, according to the report.

“E.coli, salmonella,” Hlavacek said, when asked of the risks associated with leaving food in the danger zone. “That’s where you can get bacterial growth. You want to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.”

"Manna Restaurant at Castle Rock Adventist Hospital is America’s first in-hospital, full-service restaurant," the hospital said in a statement. "It offers an ever-changing menu and an open kitchen where you can watch your meal being prepared to order by the chefs (menus at www.mannasbounty.com). It is managed by Chef Dan Skay, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who has won multiple awards including the Great Chefs of America Culinary Competition and The Wall Street Journal’s Hospital Top Chef.

"In an October 2016 county health inspection, Manna Restaurant received eight violations which were easily corrected, but which were nonetheless marked 'critical.' Chef Dan held safety meetings with the staff to review action items, which were all corrected within a day and cleared by the inspector with no further follow-up required.

“Manna Restaurant takes hospital dining to a new level, and we spare no effort in food safety. When you eat at Manna Restaurant you are literally eating in one of the cleanest restaurants in the world, which is one reason we’ve become a dining destination for the Castle Rock community as well as a highly praised amenity for patients and their families. We are also inspected by state and federal authorities and have always received excellent marks."

Café at Sky Ridge Medical Center

The Café at Sky Ridge Medical Center received seven critical violations during an unannounced October visit.

According to the inspection report they included shelves, a refrigerator and dish machine that were soiled with food debris; foods like ham and pooled eggs measured in the temperature danger zone; and main handwashing sink was blocked by carts.

"Providing high-quality food and nutrition to patients is an integral part of our commitment to exceptional care at Sky Ridge Medical Center and we take that responsibility seriously," hospital spokeswoman Linda Watson Kolstad said in a statement.

"An initial inspection from Tri-County Health noted a few minor issues, such as missing paper towels, and were immediately corrected resulting in zero violations during the follow-up inspection a week later.  We are pleased to partner with Tri-County Health to provide a safe, clean environment for our patients, visitors and staff."

Medical Center of Aurora North Campus

The Medical Center of Aurora North Campus also had a surprise visit from the inspector in October resulting in six critical violations.

The inspection report said the violations included employees failing to wash their hands; raw pork that was improperly stored above raw beef; cheese, hummus and cooked pizza that measured in the temperature danger zone; and cabinet handles were soiled

"The Medical Center of Aurora‘s North Campus is focused on providing high-quality, safe patient care, and our attention to food and nutrition for our patients is an extension of that care," the hospital said in a statement. "We were made aware of concerns by Tri-County Health in October 2016. Corrective action was immediately taken and the re-inspection by Tri-County Health resulted in zero violations."

Craig Hospital

At Craig Hospital, an October critical item inspection found five critical violations.

They included mold-like substance discovered on yellow squash; cooked chicken and beef that were vacuum sealed without a proper hazard prevention plan; and water in the hand washing sink was too hot, measuring at 130 degrees.

A spokeswoman said the kitchen recently reopened after a renovation, adding the water temperature issue has since been fixed.

"At Craig, we take these inspections very seriously, and have worked very closely with the health department to confirm our compliance. All concerns have been addressed, and the health inspector will be here on Thursday to confirm one final correction,” spokeswoman Diane Reinhard said.

Children's Hospital Colorado, Highlands Ranch

Maybe those cafeterias and cafes should take a cue from Children's Hospital in Highlands Ranch. It had a near-perfect October inspection with zero critical violations, getting a thumbs up from inspectors.

“Certainly at hospitals and schools you have more susceptible populations -- people with immune compromised symptoms or young children,” Hlavacek said. “I think it becomes more imperative that they practice good food handling practices.”

How hospital restaurants and cafeterias appeared in this report

The Tri-County Health Department includes Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties. FOX31 receives a monthly report from Tri-County Health showing monthly inspections. The criteria FOX31 Denver used to highlight the hospitals mentioned in this report included the evaluation of an unannounced inspection by county health inspectors. The hospitals mentioned all had at least five critical violations.

An inspection is a “snapshot” of what is happening during the day and time of the inspection. On any given day, a restaurant could have more or fewer violations than noted in an inspection. Also, at the time of an inspection, violations are recorded and can be corrected prior to the inspector leaving the restaurant. If violations are not corrected, a follow-up inspection is scheduled.

Health inspectors may conduct critical or follow-up inspections, due to the number of critical violations found during a regular inspection. Those inspections may also be considered for our reports.

Find your hospital cafeteria or restaurant inspection reports