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The Villages
Thursday, September 21, 2023

Inspector finds hygiene and food temperature problems at popular restaurant

An inspector found problems with employee hygiene and food temperature at a popular restaurant in The Villages.

The inspector paid a visit May 12 to the Fiesta Grande Mexican Grill at Colony Plaza and found numerous health violations, according to a report on file with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

During the visit, the inspector found flying insects in the restaurant’s kitchen and food preparation area.

The inspector also found that raw tomatoes had not been washed prior to being sliced by an employee.

Also, raw beef was being stored over ice used for drinks. A “stop sale” order was issued by the inspector due to the possible health threat to customers. In addition, there was cooked chicken and cooked beef from the day before which had not been stored at a temperature to ensure safety for customers who could have been served the food. In addition, emptied orange juice containers were used to store margaritas.

The inspector’s report also detailed numerous problems with employee hygiene at the restaurant. An employee was seen taking soiled equipment to a three-compartment sink and immediately returned to the cookline and began touching food to be served to customers. Another employee was seen washing her hands for less than the required 10 to 15 seconds. In addition, a sink that was supposed to be dedicated to employee handwashing was being used for the storage of vegetables dumped from a bucket. There were also problems with wiping cloths that were supposed to be used for cleanup, employees’ personal beverages in the food preparation area and water temperature that was too low for proper hygiene.

There were also problems with policy and paperwork. Fiesta Grande did not have a policy for “employees to follow in response to a vomiting or diarrhea event,” according to the report. The restaurant manager could not provide proof that “employees are informed of their responsibility to report to the person in charge to inform their health and activities related to food borne illnesses.”

The restaurant was not forced to close, but the inspector returned the next day to ensure the problems had been corrected. However, the following day the margaritas were still in the previously used orange juice containers and no chemical test kit was provided for the wiping cloths and the sink/warewashing machine. There were still problems with an employee handwash sink, but the inspector gave the restaurant a little more time to address the problem.

In 2021, the same Fiesta Grande location was cited for employee cleanliness violations. Later that same year, Fiesta Grande’s sister location at Brownwood was also found to have health violations.

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