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MAP: Find Out Which Smithtown Grocer is the Grossest

Patch has pulled together information on grocery store inspections across New York state to create our exclusive interactive map.

Click here for a full page view of the map.

While mold, insects, rats and dust may sound like we're listing plagues, these are actually common violations found in supermarkets and grocery stores across Long Island, including Smithtown, state data show.

Patch has pulled together information on grocery store inspections across New York state to create our exclusive interactive map, culled from public data supplied by the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets. Unlike restaurants, which are inspected by the Suffolk County Department of Health, grocers in town are inspected by this state agency.

For Smithtown Patch, we collected data on 58 markets in the Smithtown, St. James and Nesconset area, ranging from major chain supermarkets to smaller meat or seafood shops, pharmacies and convenience stores. And while sushi restaurants are inspected by the county, sushi stands located in grocery stores are inspected by the state.

RELATED: 5 Things You Should Know About Grocery Inspections

In the data above you find results of a store's latest food safety inspection as of Jan. 30, and the location's past performance. Violations are either listed as "general deficiencies," which inspectors say did not present an immediate heath risk, and "critical deficiencies" that pose a real hazard to customers. One critical violation and the market fails inspection.

How Smithtown Scored

Of all the markets in town, Uncle Giuseppe's on Route 111 had by far the worst record for health inspections in 2012, failing inspection twice. In its last inspection, the grocer was slapped with 7 critical violations, 50 general violations and one seizure, where nearly 5 pounds of baked goods were destroyed by inspectors.

Mercep Brothers meats in St. James and S&V Convenience Store in Smithtown both failed inspections earlier in 2012, but passed their more recent inspections.

When it came to general deficiencies, Costco in Nesconset was cited for 19 violations, including cracked flooring, overloaded shelves and a dirty chicken rotisserie area. Stop & Shop in Smithtown and King Kullen in St. James both had 18 general violations, though Stop & Shop hasn't had an inspection since November 2011.

That's recent compared to Handy Pantry in Nesconset, which last saw inspectors in July 2010.

King Kullen Vice President of Store Operations Anthony Femminella said the Long Island-based chain is proud of its inspection history, and told Patch that the deficiencies are addressed within days of the inspections.

"We go to great lengths to safeguard the well being of our customers and employees and take that responsibility very seriously," he said.

As for the cleanest stores in the area, the historic St. James General store, which sells candies and chocolate, only had two general deficiencies. The same went for the area's newest 7-11 on the corner of Route 347 and Terry Road: two violations.

According to the state, there were 110 inspectors on the state’s payroll in 2012 responsible for about 31,000 retail food stores and around 6,200 food warehouses, wineries and other processors. Delis are included in the department’s inspections if 50 percent or less of their business is selling ready-to-eat food.

"They are our eyes and ears behind the scenes," said Robert Gravani, a professor at Cornell University who trains state inspectors.

Inspectors show up unannounced, and can spend as little as hour or more than a day inspecting a store, said Stephen Stich, Director of Food Safety and Inspection at the department.

The Inspection System

In 29 percent of the 30,372 retail food store inspections conducted statewide in 2012, the inspector found one or more problems that could make customers sick, Patch’s analysis of public records shows.

If an inspector finds a serious hazard to food safety, the store fails the inspection. Our analysis found more than 5,300 stores across the state failed an inspection last year, and more than 1,100 stores failed more than once. The department can fine the store up to $600 for the first critical deficiency, and double that amount for any more critical problems.

The department does more than just hand out fines. Sometimes, inspectors supervise supermarket employees as they correct violations on the spot, such as sanitizing dirty deli slicers, Stich said. Inspectors also hold in-store trainings to educate employees on the importance of food safety.

"These companies want to do things right," Gravani said. "Sometimes they fall down. That’s why you have a regulatory system."

Shoppers should call state inspectors with complaints about their local supermarket, such as spoiled food, Stich said.

You can reach the Long Island and NYC regional office, located in Brooklyn, at 718-722-2876.

But if you think food from the supermarket made you sick, contact your local health department, Stich said.

You can reach the Suffolk County Health Department at 631-854-0000.

Reading Patch on a phone or tablet? Use our mobile map on the go, or visit Patch from a computer to view the full map.

Jonathan Vecchi March 14, 2013 at 04:58 PM
I once found a piece of meat in the Uncle Giuseppe freshly made marinara sauce! They since have put the sauce in sealed glass bottles, as opposed to the plastic cartons they used to use, but that experience was enough for me.
Mike March 14, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Eww. The money they are pulling in , truely a shame. Is it that hard to do the right thing ?
Jonathan Vecchi March 14, 2013 at 07:35 PM
It is my understanding that Uncle Guiseppe's is hemorrhaging money and that the Smithtown store is the only one that is turning a profit. Based on this information, I feel like they might be bought out or end up closing in a few years.
swataz March 15, 2013 at 03:32 AM
They are always packed when I go in there, and their prices are borderline exorbitant, so how the hell are they losing money?
John Pallidino March 15, 2013 at 12:48 PM
hemorrhaging $???? they are not bought out and not losing $....they have a full kitchen staffed and all food is made on premise. meat could have fallen into sauce-yes its wrong but deadly or horrific? the jar sauce came out for convenience
Jennifer March 15, 2013 at 02:46 PM
I no longer trust Uncle G. and I am really disappointed by this news. Time to shop elsewhere.
Skakmati March 15, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Understanding based on what facts? Or is this just rumor?
Skakmati March 15, 2013 at 03:11 PM
I just sent their corporate office an email outlining the issue stated in this article. Let's see what their response is. I am a loyal shopper there and spent 25 years in the food business, 12 of which were as a grocery buyer and then Head Buyer/Merchandiser for a national chain. I can assure you that every market has health violation issues on a continuing basis, primarily as a result of the perishable end of the business. In a specialty store such as UG's, where a great percentage of the business is based on in-store cooking, preparation and packaging, the real question is how does the store respond to violations found, specifically in terms of response time and preventing the same issues from occurring again? The store manager, Susanna, was transferred out last week and the new one is named Carlos. Perhaps her transfer was a partially result of these violations. Anyway, we'll see what happens with the new manager.
Henry Powderly (Editor) March 15, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Skakmati, if you don't mind sharing any response you get with me I'd appreciate it. henry@patch.com
Ralph March 15, 2013 at 09:18 PM
I heard the same thing Jonathan vecchi did.I heard it from more then one of their distributors.

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