Three North Fork businesses, including both Harbes Family Farmstands, were listed as having critical violations over the past two years in a New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets database of retail food store violations.
The violations gained attention this week after Newsday launched its own database of retail market food violations across Long Island, showing nearly 100 markets had violations in the past year.
Harbes Family Farmstand had two critical violations and 14 overall violations at its Mattituck location on Sound Avenue, and one critical violation and eight overall violations at its Jamesport location on Main Road.
The only other local establishment cited on the database was Riverhead Village Deli on East Main Street in Riverhead. It had two critical violations and 15 overall violations.
The database includes inspections as far back as Oct. 13, 2013 and as recent as June 5 of this year.
The state inspects all grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, bodegas and some farmstands, depending on the amount of food processing done at those sites, according to Dave Bullard, a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.
The violations listed as “serious” are ones considered to have a greater chance of causing foodborne illnesses.
The Harbes Mattituck location has serious violations for “employee handwashing facilities inadequate for establishments handling exposed foods” and both the Harbes’ Mattituck and Jamesport locations had serious violations for “insect, rodent, bird or vermin activity likely to result in product contamination.”
“I was very disappointed to see those sorts of things highlighted,” Harbes’ owner Ed Harbes said Friday. “We had reviewed the violations when they were issued. Most of the things were remedied quite a while ago, but some of the things pertain to just general difficulties pertaining to outdoor facilities, such as flies or dust. I can’t say we’ve completely eliminated flies or dust, but we’re doing everything in our power to have a clean, safe, enjoyable facility. We do take our role in serving the customer very seriously and we’re going to do everything we can to maintain their confidence.”
Mr. Harbes said he plans to install additional screening to keep flies out.
Another violation was for not having a hand-washing sink in a newly constructed processing facility. Mr. Harbes said that facility is now used for storage, “but before we open it for food processing, it will definitely have a three-compartment sink.”
The Riverhead Village Deli was issued two serious violations, one for “potential hazardous foods that are not stored at safe temperatures” and another for “potentially hazardous foods being kept below 135-degrees Fahrenheit during hot-holding.”
Rare roast beef may be served at 130 degrees and up, according to the state.
People who answered the phone at Riverhead Village Deli first said they didn’t have time to talk and then hung up the second time a reporter contacted them Friday.
The inspections are conducted by state ag and markets on an annual basis.
“Critical deficiencies are corrected during the inspection whenever possible,” Mr. Bullard said. “Reinspections typically occur within 60 days.”