State threatens to shut down Alteri Bakery over failed inspections


State threatens to shut down Alteri Bakery over failed inspections

WATERTOWN — The state has threatened to shut down Alteri Bakery if it doesn’t eliminate the severe unsanitary conditions found in consecutive failed food safety inspections.Owner Thomas W. Scozzafava, however, said he has taken measures to remedy the situation and can continue selling bread and submarine sandwich rolls as he waits for the next inspection in two weeks. He also said the sanitary deficiencies at his bakery, 981 Waterman Drive, have not affected products sold to customers.“The vast, vast majority of the issues are with products and ingredients of which and for which we no longer make,” Mr. Scozzafava said. “We’re serious about resolving this and to not let this happen to us again.”The state Department of Agriculture and Markets filed a complaint June 28 seeking a permanent injunction to stop Alteri from processing and selling food after inspectors from the department’s Division of Food Safety and Inspection found unsanitary conditions that could lead to foodborne illness during four inspections. The company has also been fined $13,000 for its uncorrected sanitary deficiencies, the department said. “Businesses always have the opportunity, during this process, to correct violations and come into compliance with our licensing requirements,” Jola Szubielski, director of public information for the department, said in an email. “Compliance with our food safety laws and regulations is the department’s goal.”The complaint claims that during their June 13 inspection of the bakery, inspectors found 50 pounds of ingredients that were defiled by insects, flies in the preparation area, an unclean cutting board in the preparation area, unsanitary metal pitchers and other severe deficiencies throughout the facility.Inspectors also found unsanitary conditions that could cause foodborne illness during their January, March and April inspections.The department said there were issues during its July 26 inspection as well, including having insect-infested food or ingredients, mold on food and decomposed food.“We do all we can through education and outreach to help New York businesses thrive, while ensuring their operations and products meet the standards needed to prevent foodborne illness and protect public health,” Ms. Szubielski said. “In rare instances, when all other options have been exhausted and public health is at risk, the department seeks resolution to any outstanding matters in court.”Many of the sanitary issues stem from leftover ingredients for products Alteri no longer makes, such as certain baked goods and rolls for Jreck Subs, Mr. Scozzafava said. Former employees would order several of the now adulterated ingredients, which Mr. Scozzafava said were not used to make existing products, for goods for the bakery’s storefront. Those workers have since left and current staff had not disposed of the old goods until recently after the failed inspections.“The whole back of the house has been purged of ingredients we don’t currently use for our current product mix,” Mr. Scozzafava said.The entrepreneur, who also owns Sackets Harbor Brewing Co., said he has also made failed attempts to deal with a persistent fruit fly problem in the bakery himself, but has resolved to hire a professional company to remove the insects. Other issues from all inspections “have all been addressed,” he said. The storefront’s bakery also has been closed to make renovations and to hire more help, which Mr. Scozzafava said was unrelated to the failed inspections.When asked why the unsanitary conditions in his bakery were not remedied earlier, Mr. Scozzafava said some of them fell to the wayside as he works 60 hours each week managing multiple businesses. Other issues he tried to tackle himself before resolving to recruit outside assistance.“Managerial oversight, it (was) not there,” he said. “It is now.”Alteri Bakery has struggled financially in recent years, particularly after it was dropped as the sole roll supplier for several Jreck Subs eateries in 2010. Mr. Scozzafava, however, said he aims to turn the business around by focusing primarily on making Italian sub rolls and negotiating with the U.S. Postal Service to ship them to customers beyond the north country in Syracuse, Utica, Rochester and Buffalo.“We’ve been dealing with a tremendous financial struggle over the last five years — six years — and now we’re finally starting to get an opportunity to get things under control and get our focus back,” Mr. Scozzafava said.
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News
State threatens to shut down Alteri Bakery over failed inspections

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