RED ALERT: Health inspector finds rodent gnaw marks on food at beach bar

12:01 AM, Dec 5, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PETE BEACH, Florida - Located right on Blind Pass Road between St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island, The Salty Rim is popular year round for their food, drinks, and beautiful sunsets.

But on November 22nd, a state health inspector documented conditions some might consider less than beautiful, with 21 violations, eight considered high priority.

Among the issues were temperature violations on the yellow rice, shrimp, and sliced tomatoes; an employee not properly washing their hands before putting on gloves to work with food; no soap at an employee hand sink; small flying insects in the bar area; and more bugs in the light shield right above the cooks line, along with 80 plus roaches found throughout the kitchen, including on the back side of the cooks line.

The inspector also reported finding rodent droppings with 50 old, dry droppings found inside a box of crackers with plastic shreds and gnawed cardboard and a loaf of bread that appeared to be chewed on.

So this week we stopped in to see if the issues listed on the November inspection were now corrected. We found co-owner Rory Hardin on the back deck and asked for permission to take a look inside the kitchen.

"Not today," he said while on the phone with police. "You guys probably need to leave."

Before we took off, we did ask to see a copy of the restaurant's latest inspection, something every restaurant is required by state law to make available to the public.

"It's in the office," Hardin told us. "I don't have a key to get in the office at the moment."

We obtained our own copy of the report from the state and shared the inspector's findings with customers.

"That would turn me off totally. I would never go into a place like that," said Bay area resident Susan Thomas, who was especially concerned over the rodent droppings and gnaw marks on food. "You can get very sick from things like that. You don't know what diseases these rodents are carrying."

"That's very scary," said former customer Nicole Bushere, who says things were never the same after the restaurant was taken over by new management. "It makes me not even want to eat at the restaurant."

We received a written statement from the ownership of the Salty Rim. Their statement reads:

"The health and safety of our guests and associates is our highest priority. Following the November inspection, we retained a new pest control company. Additionally, we have implemented new procedures that have addressed and resolved the issues."

The restaurant was cleared by the state to reopen the following day. This, however, was not the first time the beach bar has run into issues. The state required follow-ups on back-to-back inspections back in January with a combined 50 violations.

You can take a look at The Salty Rim's complete inspection history here.

By the way, we checked inspection reports for the other two restaurants in the same shopping center. Both met inspection standards with Carino's Italian scoring a perfect inspection April 25th.

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