Among violations was illegal selling of live frogs
The controversial Ming’s Market in the New York Streets neighborhood has been shut down by City inspectors this month after they responded to complaints and allegedly found 600 dozen non-refrigerated eggs and illegal sales of live frogs.
Inspectors were called to Ming’s after a 3-1-1 complaint about the conditions, and inspectors reported to the 1102 Washington St. market on Feb. 13. Once there, they found a litany of alleged violations that prompted inspectors to shut down the business, call for a hearing with the Health Department and fix a number of sanitary conditions – including issues with rats and rat droppings.
The Sun attempted to reach the owner of Ming’s, who the paper has talked with in the past, but was not able to immediately get a response.
Two of the biggest issues were with a huge amount of eggs, some 600 dozen, stored on a pallet in the adjacent warehouse. They were found in an unrefrigerated area that was at about 60 degrees during inspection. Eggs are supposed to constantly be refrigerated at a temperature of no less than 41 degrees, according to health codes.
In a little bit of a bizarre infraction, inspectors found live frogs in the back area and on the loading dock, which is a violation of the food laws. Live frogs cannot be sold to the public without a permit from the State Division of Marine Fisheries, which Ming’s allegedly did not have. Inspectors ordered all of the live frogs to be returned to the supplier until a permit is procured.
A major issue for cleanliness, however, was the alleged pervasive presence of rat droppings. Rodent droppings were found under produce shelving, at the back loading dock, in the sprinkler room on shelving, in the produce prep area and a rat burrow hole was found next to the compact dumpster.
There were several other issues found with the store, including not storing fish in food-grade bags, overall cleanliness, storage of trash and repair/maintenance of the store.
A re-inspection date was tentatively scheduled for Feb. 27.
In the meantime, neighbors who have long had issues with Ming’s, said they found it to be yet another strike against the business – which they have said is not a good neighbor.
Since last summer, the neighbors and Ming’s representatives have been embroiled in a Zoning Board issue whereby the store wants to expand into the warehouse adjacent to them (where the eggs allegedly were at). They need a zoning variance to do so, and neighbors are against that.
“A majority of members and Board that I have spoken with agree that when a neighborhood establishment selling food does not maintain minimal Public Health Commission standards, then consequences such as a temporary closure is appropriate and gives them the opportunity to rectify the long list of issues,” said Ken Smith, East Berkeley Neighborhood Association (EBNA) president. “However, we are concerned that this is not the first closure in the recent past. Perhaps it is the second or third. So, we hope they either have the ability and desire to work harder to meet all these public health standards or are willing to face the consequences.”
Smith went further to say the Association believes the closure confirms their concerns about an expansion into the warehouse, and just how it might be used.
“Furthermore, we believe that this recent non-compliance substantiates our serious concerns about expanding warehouse space into the building adjacent to their store in East Berkeley Street,” he said. “We hope that the Zoning Board weighs their decision fully in light of this latest egregious set of issues.”