Johnson County Public Health finds health code violations at local restaurants

The Johnson County Department of Public Health found dozens of health code violations at restaurants in January. The violations were mainly concentrated in inadequate sanitization, food safety certification, and food holding temperatures.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Sushiya Hoja is seen in the Old Capital Mall on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Editor

Johnson County Public Health conducted 35 pre-opening and routine health inspections in the first month of 2022, revealing various inadequate sanitary and certification guidelines at local establishments.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals reported 55 violations found during the county’s inspections. The violations were found at 18 inspected restaurants.

Iowa City accounted for 10 of the inspections and nine violations.

Sushiya Hoja, located on South Clinton Street, had eight violations on Jan. 26. Inspectors found supervisors at the restaurant were not ensuring employees were washing their hands while working or that utensils and dishware were properly sanitized.

The inspection also found menus were not disclosing what items were undercooked or raw. A supervisor fixed this while an inspector was on site. The report also found employees working on the cookline at Sushiya Hoja were not washing their hands after cracking raw shell eggs for multiple orders. Employees also wore the same gloves to prepare other foods after handling raw eggs.

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The food in freezers at the Old Capital Town Center restaurant did not have dates on prepared items, making expiration dates unclear.

The only other Iowa City location to receive a violation was Cafecito, a Miami-style Latin fusion cafe, on Jan. 12 for a date marking issue that was resolved.

Coralville had 15 inspections with 26 violations.

Auntie Anne’s, located in the Coralville Mall, had four violations, including having no Certified Food Protection Manager employed at the location and no Employee Health Reporting agreements.

The Employee Health Reporting agreement allows employees to share “information about their health and activities as they relate to diseases that are transmissible through food” in accordance with Iowa law.

El Dorado in Coralville also had four violations, including date marking issues and the Certified Food Protection Manager’s certification had expired. In February 2021, the Mexican restaurant had five additional violations during an inspection.

North Liberty establishments accounted for five inspections and 10 violations.

Sobremesa Mexican Restaurant was the site of eight violations found on Jan. 5, including many sauces held below safe temperatures and inadequate washing of dishes before the inspection.

The establishment has had four other violations since 2021. During a physical recheck, inspectors found violations remained regarding food protection certifications for staff.

This story is part of a monthly series by The Daily Iowan regarding health inspections at local restaurants.