ALBANY — The state issued its first round of enhanced food safety inspection ratings this week, and gave most food establishments an A grade.
Hundreds received B grades, though, indicating critical deficiencies were found but were corrected on the spot, and more than a thousand received C grades for critical deficiencies that were not or could not be corrected at the time of the inspection. Thirty-five of the Bs and Cs were in the Capital Region.
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets announced the new system and put it into use in January, with a requirement that stores prominently post the ratings where customers will see them. The department said the grades will help customers better understand the sanitary conditions in that store.
Agriculture and Markets’ Division of Food Safety and Inspection inspects the state’s food retailers at least once a year, looking for critical or general deficiencies.
Critical deficiencies are those that could lead to foodborne illnesses, such as problems with food condition, cooking and storage temperatures, or employee sanitary practices. Even one critical deficiency precludes an A rating under the new rules.
General deficiencies are those that are not health threats but could negatively affect operation of the store, such as its design, maintenance and cleanliness. Stores can have general deficiencies and still earn an A rating.
Food Safety and Inspection is the largest division of Agriculture and Markets, with about 150 full-time employees covering every county in the state.
In the first quarter of 2018, the department conducted 8,186 inspections at the roughly 29,000 retail food establishments statewide.
In the greater Capital Region, eight establishments got a B and 27 got a C. The rest of those that were inspected received As. These ranged from tiny inner-city corner markets to supermarkets to the huge Hannaford distribution center in Schodack Landing operated by Delhaize America.
Some of the 8,186 inspections were re-inspections of establishments that got a C the first time around. The Hannaford in Troy, for example, got a C on Jan. 18 and an A on March 12. The distribution facility got an A upon reinspection April 5.
Hannaford spokesman Eric Blom said the deficiencies were corrected right after the first inspection in both cases.
The re-inspection procedure doesn’t always end positively, though. The Fresh Market of NY in Latham got a C on Jan. 4 and got another C on March 2. On April 5, it got an A.
The Department of Agriculture and Markets said food retail establishments with a B or C grade are typically re-inspected sooner than they otherwise would be, and if the deficiency is not corrected upon reinspection, or if a new deficiency is identified, the retailer could face a fine.
The department regularly updates inspection results at the data.ny.gov online database.
That database shows 25,674 inspections from Oct. 7, 2014, to April 10, 2018, 520 of them with live C ratings, mostly issued in early 2018. All but the most recent of the C ratings issued to Capital Region retailers in the first quarter appeared to have been resolved by April 10.
The state’s letter rating system was designed with the input of the food industry. When it was announced in January, Hannaford and Price Chopper each told The Daily Gazette they supported the system. Neither changed their position Friday after each saw one of their Capital Region supermarkets get a less-than-optimum rating.
Price Chopper said the deficiencies identified at its Warrensburg store were corrected immediately; the B grade the store received indicates this.
“The health and safety of our customers continues to be a top priority for us,” spokeswoman Mona Golub said.
North Carolina-based The Fresh Market made a similar point in a statement Friday:
“Over the past few months, we have been focused on improving the sanitation rating for our Latham, New York, store. After working closely with the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, this store passed the recent inspection on April 5, 2018, with an A rating. We are committed to providing a safe, clean environment for our guests.”
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets issued results of 8,186 food retail inspections in the first three months of 2018. The following Capital Region establishments received B grades for critical deficiencies that were corrected on the spot:
- Breakthrough African Market, 309 Central Ave., Albany (Feb. 1)
- De Los Santos Market, 53 N. Swan St., Albany (Jan. 24)
- Livingston Market, 367 Livingston Ave., Albany (March 16)
- Madison Grocery & Deli, 130 Madison Ave., Albany (Jan. 30)
- Price Chopper, 16 Lake George Plaza Road, Warrensburg (March 28)
- Rauch Bakery Co. 15 Washington St., Gloversville (Jan. 2)
- Stewart’s #126, 1502 Balltown Road, Niskayuna (March 1)
- Stewart’s #247, 1037 Route 29a, Gloversville (Feb. 12)
The following Capital Region establishments received C grades for critical deficiencies that were not corrected on the spot:
- Chico Chicken Deli & Grocery 333 S. Pearl St., Albany (Jan. 22)
- Deb’s Market & Beauty Shop, 22 Quail St., Albany (March 9)
- Delhaize America, 970 Route 9, Schodack Landing (Jan. 2)
- Fly By Food Mart, 354 S Pearl St., Albany (Jan. 16)
- The Fresh Market of NY, 664 New Loudon Road, Latham (Jan. 4 and March 2)
- Hannaford, 9 126th st., Troy (Jan. 18)
- Lucky Mini Mart, 313 E. Main St., Amsterdam (Feb. 28)
- Malta Corners Mini Mart, 2465 Route 9, Ballston Spa (Jan. 18)
- Menands Auto Repair, 591 Broadway, Menands, (Jan. 10)
- Mohawk Dairy Store, 260 Forest Ave., Amsterdam (Feb. 14)
- Ocean State Job Lot, 2330 Watt St., Schenectady (Feb. 1)
- Quick Stop, 315 19th St., Watervliet (Feb. 15)
- Raizada Fuel, 63 Main Ave., Wynantskill (Jan. 29)
- Rite Aid, 147 N. Comrie Ave., Johnstown (Feb. 20)
- Rite Aid, 1901 Second Ave., Watervliet (March 2)
- Save More Beverage 1512 Route 9, Clifton Park (March 16)
- ShopRite, 709 Central Ave., Albany (Feb. 14)
- Speedway, 1723 Route 7, Cobleskill (Feb. 13)
- Star One Market, 203 Livingston Ave., Albany (Jan. 24)
- Stewart’s #153, 237 Main St., Schoharie (Jan. 24)
- Stewart’s #341, 504 Route 9P, Saratoga Springs (Jan. 26)
- The Store, 1 S. Main St., Castleton On Hudson (March 27)
- Sunoco, 57 Exchange St., Colonie (Feb. 15)
- Sushi With Gusto, 664 New Loudon Road, Latham (Jan. 4)
- Target, 26 Crossing Blvd., Clifton Park (March 8)
- USA Gas Mart, 1600 Western Ave., Albany (Feb. 23)
- Yemyem Smokeshop & Deli, 70 Congress St., Troy (Feb. 8)