DOH shuts down restaurant row facing Starkist
The Department of Public Health has shut down the row of restaurants facing the StarKist Samoa main office building last Friday, after site inspections uncovered unsanitary and filthy kitchen conditions.
Grease-lined burners, oil-stained cardboard boxes laid out on the floor, burnt pots and woks, and buckets of waste in the kitchen were enough for the DOH inspectors to issue citations and shut the operations down until further notice.
Head of the DOH Environmental Services Division Papali'i Marion Fitisemanu told the Samoa News yesterday the notices posted on the windows of the four restaurants in question state the businesses have been shut down by DOH as of last Friday, August 23, with no re-open date noted.
He explained that businesses are usually given 7-10 business days to clean up and get things squared away before a follow-up inspection is conducted. However, in this case, the conditions are so bad he decided not to post a re-open date on the notice until follow-up inspections are conducted and the results are favorable.
The restaurants in question are frequented by hundreds of cannery workers, bus drivers, and passers by everyday. The food is prepared inside and transactions are made through a small window facing the road. Benches and tables are set up outside where people sit and eat.
In addition to the filthy conditions in the kitchen, there are also concerns that the seating areas also pose a health risk, as it is out in the open and facing the road, meaning a lot of fly-aways, bugs, flies, mosquitoes, and dust.
One of the restaurants reportedly does not have proper plumbing, with water being drained down towards the area where people sit and eat.
Samoa News visited the row of restaurants yesterday morning and noticed that two of the four restaurants were open. Papalii said their office received complaints from people about the same two restaurants and when DOH inspectors stopped by, they discovered that they are not open for business but instead, leaving the windows and doors open as they start their clean-up efforts.
He said he was going to send some of his people out there anyway, to ensure that nothing was being sold and if there were any transactions being made, "people will start going to jail," he said.
Papalii said he and his crew will continue to conduct inspections throughout the island, now that they are done with the inspections of DOE facilities, which kept them busy for a few weeks. He said the only thing that stops them from conducting their job sometimes, is the lack of adequate manpower "but we make do with what we got”.
After a two-week delay, due to the DOH inspection citations, local public schools on Tutuila and Aunu’u are scheduled to open today. Most of the schools have clean bills of health, while a few are opening “with conditions”, according to the DOE director. See story elsewhere in today’s issue of Samoa News.
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