Campus Eateries Have History of Extensive Inspection Violations


Photo by: Larry Valenzuela

A Fresno City College Cafe chef serves food to students at the college cafeteria on March 8. Campus eateries have a history of extensive inspection violations.

Pacific Cafe and Fresno City College Cafe are two very popular spots to grab a bite to eat at Fresno City College; what students may not know is the extensive history of health code violations at both restaurants.

Both businesses have been cited for a string of violations, but what is indisputable is the fundamental difference between how the two eateries operate. That is reflected in the reports conducted by Erica Armstrong, health specialist for the Fresno County Department of Health.

Pacific Cafe has been cited for more significant violations than the Fresno City College Cafe, although the frequency of violations overall is relatively the same.

In 2015, Pacific Cafe was found to have violated regulation each of the 12 times of inspection, including reinspection, for violations such as build up of leftover food around equipment, inconsistent food temperature, storing cooked and uncooked meats together and cleanliness of the eating area.

Fresno City College Cafe violated each of the 10 times for failure of equipment such as refrigerators, built up food left where meals are prepared and wall paneling in need of repair.

Inspectors conduct their inspections every three months, and the most recent inspection occurred on Jan. 25. Armstrong said that both restaurants received citations for violations, including temperature control problems and overall cleanliness of the eating environment.

“They were having food temperature issues as well as their hot holding display in the front. There were temperature issues both there. They also had cleaning issues. They had a lot of cleaning to be done.” said Armstrong.

Wayne Fox, manager of the environmental health division of the Fresno County Department of Health, explained the importance of keeping food at the correct temperatures.

“We hold temperature violations very serious,” Fox. “Food temperature violations are considered very serious because certain food borne illnesses spread easier when food is kept at certain temperatures.”

Those types of violations occur when food temperature are not held at certain temperatures —
below 41 F for cold food and above 135 F degree for hot food, Fox said.

“You try to keep the food always out of the food danger zone which is in between there,” he said.

Fox also said that while Tom Hagihara, owner of Pacific Cafe, has always been able to fix the temperature and cleaning violations, the Pacific Cafe has established a pattern of showing the same type of problems at each inspection.

Although Fox said that consequences for violating regulations vary, perpetual violators who do not fix the problems are subject to fines and are required to take food handler classes. However, if the violations continue, the restaurant can face more serious consequences.

“The ultimate result is if they don’t fix the violation, we will close them,” Fox said. “What they [Pacific Cafe] have done is they have remedied the situation.”

Fox added that the Pacific Cafe’s violations “keep coming back” and there “needs to be some more consistency with their operation and how they operate.”

Hagihara, owner of Pacific Cafe, says that the time of day of the inspections makes a difference in the results.

“In the morning or the afternoon [is the worst time], not at like 11, 12 o’clock or 1 o’clock,” Hagihara said. “But you know, I can’t control it; I can’t control it.”

Armstrong disagrees.
“It doesn’t really matter the time that I go there,” she says. “I come at all different times of the day, later in the afternoon or earlier; kind of when they open.”

Armstrong said she can only work with the restaurant hours.

“They close a little bit earlier, especially during the summer, so I may be there before 2 p.m,” she said.

When a violation is discovered, businesses are given a deadline to remedy them, and the deadline varies based on the severity of the violation.

“If it’s going to be temperature issues where maybe we think that the equipment is not working,” Armstrong said, “then I would want to go out there pretty quickly, pretty close to the first date.”

Fresno City College Cafe, located across the free speech area, adjacent to the Student Lounge, was also cited for a violation during the last inspection. Inspections of both restaurants were conducted at the same time.

Armstrong found that similar to their competition, the refrigerator at the Fresno City College Cafe stopped working and food was not being cooled properly. The food was not thrown because food the food was out for significantly less time than than the permitted four hours.

“One of our refrigerators was down, but the maintenance crew fixed it right away. They came back in a couple days,” said Anita Handy, manager of the Fresno City College Cafe and customer director for Taher Inc. “It was just a minor violation. If it’s not fixed, then it would be a significant violation.”

The quality of the food and eating environment has not gone unnoticed by students. Gregorio Ruiz, a student at FCC who eats at both restaurants on a regular basis said he has noticed that Pacific Cafe is not always as clean as it should be. He said he has become concerned because of this.

“If I get a tray, I could pretty much tell if it had been used by someone else; it will have crumbs on it.” said Ruiz.

“Sometimes they are clean, and sometimes they get a little sloppy,“ Ruiz said. “It doesn’t bother me too much, but I hope that they can fix that pretty soon because that is an easy way to spread germs.”