Restaurant Grade Overhaul, Brooklyn Tortilla Factory Owner Jailed: Food-Related News From Runnin’ Scared


A pair of food-related stories hit the wire yesterday over at the Village Voice news blog Runnin’ Scared, and the first may be good news for restaurateurs who’ve coughed up considerable cash to deal with Department of Health violations.

As Raillan Brooks reports, Christine Quinn announced that the city council will discuss overhauling Health Department regulations and fines in response to complaints about overzealous grading.

This does not mean, however, that health code is going out the window. Says Brooks:

Though there is the potential for underregulation, don’t buy stock in Immodium just yet. The new legislation is not about relaxing grading standards. They’re more about increasing transparency and accountability of the inspectors handing out the grades. The city is making these new allowances because restaurant owners are often blindsided by draconian safety rules. Among the new regulations will be an opportunity for eateries and restaurants to get a cheap or free consultation–depending on the age of the restaurant–ahead of a formal, grade-bearing inspection.

Read Raillan Brooks’ full account of Quinn’s DOH announcement and then read the full statement on the matter from the city.

A grisly saga resulting from a worst-case-scenario death has come to a close with the jailing of Brooklyn Tortilla Factory’s owner Erasmo Ponce. As Anna Merlan reports, Ponce was sentenced to 90 days and a nearly $450,000 fine for workers’ compensation violations that came to light when an employee, Juan Baten, fell into a dough mixer at the factory and died when he was crushed by the gears. When investigators inspected, they found a host of other violations and ultimately determined that a simple guardrail could have prevented Baten’s death. Get Merlan’s full story of the Brooklyn Tortilla Factory jailing over at Runnin’ Scared.