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Black filth on interior of ice machine; 5 Food Borne Illness Risk Factor violations, “MINOR” says Dante Vallozzi of Vallozzi’s Restaurant in Greensburg

Black filth on interior of ice machine; 5 Food Borne Illness Risk Factor violations, “MINOR” says Dante Vallozzi of Vallozzi’s Restaurant in Greensburg

Greensburg, PA

Vallozzi’s Restaurant Greensburg

855 Georges Station Rd
Greensburg, PA 15601

Tap here to see the signed inspection report

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture conducted an unannounced retail food inspection on 2/25/2020. As a result of that inspection, and due to the severity of the violations Vallozzi’s Restaurant was cited as being, “Out of Compliance” with Pennsylvania food safety regulations. During this inspection a total of 9 violations were found.

A person purporting to be Dante Vallozzi contacted The Pennsylvania Chronicle through the website Thursday, February 27, 2020 making the following statement:

Just curious if you plan on offering any sort of retraction or correction after the inspector returns, as in a mere 12 hours after inspection we were already in compliance on all nine of our MINOR violations. Also, two helpful hints: you should probably let the public know the difference between critical and minor violations, but you probably don’t know yourselves; also, whoever is writing your headlines should buy a thesaurus or make an attempt to expand their vocabulary; you really should only use the words “fumble” and “bumble” so many times.

The Pennsylvania Chronicle pleads guilty to less than model headlines. Typically, headlines come from inspection reports. A restaurant, bumbles, fumbles, fouls and fails with the balance of the headline created from the inspector’s words.* Equally tedious, a simple fill-in the blank template serves as the body of stories on the website.

The Department of Agriculture classifies violations into two categories, Foodborne Illness Risk Factors violations and Good Retail Practices violations. (See definitions below) Vallozzi’s message misstates the 9 violations found at the February 25, 2020 inspection. Of the nine violations, the inspector cited 5 in the Foodborne Illness Risk Factors group.

The Pennsylvania Chronicle asked Vallozzi about one specific violations in this email exchange below: **

Violation: Black filth observed on the interior of the ice machine bin underneath at discharge chute. DO NOT USE. Please empty ice machine COMPLETELY!! Wash, Rinse and Sanitize all parts and allow to air dry before refilling. This machine WAS NOT cleaned during the time of this inspection and bagged ice will be utilized until approval is obtained.

Pennsylvania Chronicle question to Vallozzi:

How long was the black filth present? How long would it have taken you to notice it had the inspector not shown up? Is this minor?
 
Black filth observed on the interior of the ice machine bin underneath at discharge chute. DO NOT USE. Please empty ice machine COMPLETELY!! Wash, Rinse and Sanitize all parts and allow to air dry before refilling. This machine WAS NOT cleaned during the time of this inspection and bagged ice will be utilized until approval is obtained.
 
 
 
Vallozzi Response to Pennsylvania Chronicle:
 
It was not black filth as described in the report.  There was about a six inch long and one inch wide area of a milky colored, non-dripping condensation, which was also located above the protective panel over the ice.  We have the machine emptied and professionally cleaned on the first Monday of every month.  While the inspector was on site, we verbally notified him that we were moving up the scheduled cleaning to today (Thursday, February 27) rather than the scheduled cleaning on Monday, March 2, and the machine was emptied last night and professionally cleaned this morning at 9:00 AM.  I can provide an invoice of this.
 
 
 
The Pennsylvania Chronicle follows up with this question:
 
So the inspector made it up? What reason is there for the inspector to call something black filth that is something else and label it a food borne illness risk factor?
 
 
 
Vallozi responds to the follow-up question:
 
In my opinion, it was simply his best way of describing it, no malicious intent at all on his part.  As I said, factually, it was 1×6 strip, was not black, and it was located above the protective panel over the ice, was shown to our Executive Chef and me personally, and was not a food borne illness risk factor as it was not dripping and could have no direct contact with the ice.  Also, as I said, the report of not correcting it upon inspection was because we asked the inspector if he wanted it done then and there or if he wanted us to use our professional service.  He told us to use our professional service.  We then called them, and moved the cleaning up to as soon as possible and told him, on site, that that (sic) would be today.  The cleaning was completed this morning and we are anxious for him to come back whenever that may be, because as I said, all minor violations were able to be corrected, same day, in the 12 hours following his visit.
 
 
 
The Pennsylvania Chronicle asks another question based on Vallozzi’s response:
 
Actually it is classified as a food borne risk factor. The state, generally, doesn’t return (in the state report) for retail practices issues. And you’ve been using bagged ice until today rather than cleaning it yourself.
 
 
Vallozzi clarifies in the ongoing email exchange:
 
Yes, ice certainly can be a food borne illness factor, you are correct.  But the area in the report, as I will say again, even if dripping could physically not have come into contact with the ice itself.  The inspector is returning simply because we have never been out of compliance in almost 40 years (in May) and the violations were so minor they could be corrected.  The ice machine is cleaned in house weekly and professionally monthly, meaning in the motor, etc., things that need to be done that way.  We are still going to continue using bagged ice, per his report, until he returns and approves the machine.  As I’m sure, since you’re clearly so studious, that was his official recommendation.
 
 
 
The Pennsylvania Chronicle drills down on the “clarification” provided by Vallozzi:
 
We have access to the full signed report. The inspector is doing a follow-up inspection which is the standard practice when a restaurant is out of compliance. If you are out of compliance at that inspection there will be a Type 2 Inspection.
 
 
He did not make a recommendation. He ordered you to stop using the machine until approved to use it again. Why are you telling me it is a recommendation? What would make him recommend doing something like that, with all the inconvenience it would cause when there is no food borne illness risk as you suggest?
 
 
 
In response to the drill down question Vallozzi responds:
 
I actually feel bad for you.  To sit at home and study inspection reports done by people with actual jobs and blog about them must be a sad existence.  To take sick pleasure in posting salacious headlines about businesses, in some case family businesses like ours, that have been proudly serving people for decades.  Also, not letting your readers know the difference between critical and non-critical violations is an absolute crime and you should be ashamed.  I’m not sure if you’re a failed restaurateur or podcaster or wannabe media influencer, but I do feel bad for you.  Write whatever you want but like I said, get a thesaurus, as words other than “fumble” and “bumble” do exist.
 
 
Asked to comment for the story later, Vallozzi responded by email:
 
Awwwwwww Baby Don Shaw busy blogging from Mommy’s basement on a Sunday!  She must have made an extra special breakfast for her very special little boy today to give him all this energy!  You’ll pardon my delayed response because, unlike you, I have a life (the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual) and had plans to spend time with a woman (an adult female person) today, and wasn’t able to check my e-mail until now.  Maybe one day you’ll learn what both of those things are!  I included dictionary definitions in parenthesis to give you a head start! 

 

 

Foodborne Illness Risk Factors

These are the types of violations that can make someone ill if they are not corrected.  Factors such as good worker hygiene, correct holding and storing temperatures for foods and making sure the food comes from approved sources are all critical for ensuring public health.  If one of these violations is found, it must be corrected immediately or it will put the entire inspection out of compliance. The violation will still show up on the report if it is corrected immediately, but the restaurant will be considered in compliance. On the report, these violations are listed in red.

Good Retail Practices

These violations are also important for protecting public health, but have less potential to cause a significant foodborne illness.  If a restaurant has one or two of these violations, they should be corrected immediately or a follow-up inspection will be required.  It may or may not put the restaurant out of compliance, depending on the severity and the circumstances of the violation.

Source: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Agriculture (tap to read more on the state’s website)

* Sometimes The Pennsylvania Chronicle edits inspectors words in a headline to make the headline succinct and fit into limited space. Often the “sensational” nature of a headline comes from nature of the violation and The Pennsylvania Chronicle avoids adding words, ergo words like fumble, bumble fail and found in a headline.

** The Pennsylvania Chronicle also asked Vallozzi about, “Can opener was observed with dried food accumulation on the blade and blade guard.” This will be followed up in another story.

Vallozzi’s Restaurant in Greensburg bumbles inspection; Black filth observed on the interior of the ice machine bin underneath at discharge chute, ordered use bagged ice, 9 violations