FAIRFIELD – One business in the city – A&S Italian Fine Foods Battimelli – failed a health inspection last month due to a series of violations that left them substandard.

Businesses in Fairfield are not tested by the Department of Health when they receive a score below 80 out of 100 or when they receive a one-time deduction out of four points. The second review is usually scheduled two weeks after the initial assessment.

Battimelli’s, 2079 Black Rock Tpke., failed a health check on May 4, scoring 77 out of 100. The establishment had several violations on four counts: curing raw smoked sausages without a special process license, missing a sink in the food preparation area at the back of the premises, and storing and reheating food at inappropriate temperatures.

“We’ve looked at all the points cited by the Fairfield Health Department,” said Donald Battimelli, who co-owns Battimelli’s with his father, Carmine. “In addition, we have installed all the new shelving well in advance and plan to install an additional sink.”

The small grocery store has not yet been re-inspected as they await hand-wash delivery, Fairfield Health Department said. When it is installed, officials say it will be retested at the same time.

The Battimelli also had other, lesser flaws, with issues such as mislabeling of ingredients, food stored on the freezer floor, and a dessert box not keeping the proper temperature.

Battimelli said this is the first time the store has been “remotely close” to failing inspection or having any issues with any health department.

Battimelli said his family has been in the dry sausage business for generations.

“It was only recently that we were informed that the local health department is no longer allowing us to do this,” he said. “Following conversations with state officials, there was confusion as to whose jurisdiction is oversight and licensing in the state of Connecticut. Laboratory reports show that we have a safe, usable and shelf-stable product that meets all food requirements.”

Battimelli said they have since halted production of the dried sausage for retail sale and are actively working on proper licensing with the help of the Fairfield Department of Health and the USDA.

He said the store always had a manual sink at the entrance to the kitchen, which was used by kitchen and counter workers, and the store’s building documents were approved by both the building and health departments.

“A recent health inspector requested an extra sink,” Battimelli said. “We installed the additional sink immediately within seven days of submitting the application.”

After installing the requested sink, Battimelli said they planned ahead of time to install another sink closer to the back of the kitchen.

Battimelli said they regularly check the temperature of their products.

“When the health department checked the food in said holding mechanism, the temperature readings were slightly below normal,” he said. “The health inspector started the inspection within 30 minutes of activating the restraint mechanism, so we were able to guess that it took longer than it should have to reach the temperature.”

Battimelli said they contacted the equipment manufacturer immediately and had it repaired. He said there is a four-hour window during which contamination can occur when food temperature drops below storage temperature, noting that readings were taken within the first 30 minutes.

Battimelli also said the items on the freezer floor were there because they had just been delivered and were in the process of being inspected, labelled, rotated and placed.

“We have since implemented new procedures to prepare for planned deliveries so that products go straight to the right places,” he said.

The company has been checking the temperature of its baking box daily and, as always, it is in working order, Battimelli said, adding that the temperature drops temporarily when the door is opened to fill it up. He said the temperature of the baking box was taken after the box was filled during the daily opening process.

Like many small businesses, Battimelli said Battimelli’s A&S Italian Fine Foods is struggling with a labor shortage. He said they have always held high standards for themselves and the staff and will continue to do so.

“We respect the health department’s work to ensure the safety of food service patrons across the city,” he said. “We have always maintained a high level of food purity and safety, which our customers regularly point out.”

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