A Manhattan restaurant received health inspection during busy hour which resulted in five summonses with $900 penalties in total. Anjappar is an Indian cuisine restaurant located at 116 Lexington Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. On July 3, 2018, while the restaurant was preparing a large order, an inspector from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene made an unannounced visit. The inspector observed in Anjappar’s kitchen near an operating stove approximately eight pounds of cooked chicken in metal containers at room temperature. The inspector tested the meat and found it was above the required temperature. The inspector also observed that the waste pipe connected to a dishwasher was contaminated by accumulated grease, and that water leaking from an air conditioner was being improperly disposed of in a bucket on the kitchen floor.
The inspector issued five summonses for food storage violations and unsafe conditions in the kitchen. An OATH hearing officer upheld the summonses. Anjappar appealed. On appeal, Anjappar argued that when the inspector arrived in the restaurant the kitchen was preparing a “quite big” order and had taken the cooked chicken outside of a walk-in refrigerator. Had there been no unannounced inspection, Anjappar argued, the kitchen staff would not have panicked and would have returned the unused portion of the cooked chicken to the refrigerator. Anjappar also argued that the unsafe conditions caused by inappropriately disposed leaking water from the air conditioner did not cause any harm and was immediately rectified.
The OATH Appeals Unit affirmed the hearing decision and imposed a fine of $900. It rejected Anjappar’s argument that the sudden panic in the kitchen caused by unannounced visit of a health inspector excused the restaurant from storing perishable meat at safe, regulated temperatures. It also ruled that later actions that rectified unsafe conditions in the kitchen did not constitute a defense regardless of whether the condition had caused actual harm.
(CIT) DOHMH v. Twin Oaks USA Inc., OATH Hearings Division Appeals Unit. Appeal No. 09263-18F1 (October 19, 2018).
By: Young Kim (Young is a New York Law School student, Class of 2020).
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported that in 2018 the Department issued 28,900 health violations to restaurants in Manhattan. During the same year, the Department issued a total of 73,631 violations in all five boroughs. The number of violations City-wide has been climbing each year. In 2017 and 2016, the City issued 48,382 and 45,894 violations, respectively. In 2015, only 11,917 violations were issued.