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DIRTY DINING: Raw chicken and more at Sansei Japan in the Meadows Mall

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jul 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 02:56:44-04

Walking through a mall is a cool way to spend a hot summer day and it often involves grabbing a bite to eat.

But are those food courts safe? Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears takes us Dirty Dining.

Sushi at the mall may seem like a healthy choice among all the food court offerings, but at Sansei Japan in the Meadows Mall, it wasn't the best option according to a recent health inspection, which left the place with a 37-demerit C grade.

However, the person in charge at Sansei Japan, Aimee Sampallo, denies getting 37 demerits before Spears shows her the report.

"Oh, well, um... It was just because the stove wasn't working properly," Sampallo said.

There were a lot of other issues, such as excessively dirty floors, produce not properly washed, and grab-n-go sushi rolls not labeled with prep or expiration dates.

"If no one knows when the sushi was made or when it expires, of course they don't know if it's fresh or safe," Spears pointed out to Sampallo.

Shrimp, chicken samples, cut cabbage, vegetable mix and an entire white garbage bin filled with chicken broth all had to be thrown out because of unsafe temperatures. 

Inspectors also found drops of fluid from raw chicken on top of a corn starch container.

But Sampallo still says it was because of the stove.

"Well, it was all because of the stove," she said. "But we didn't have any raw chicken or anything like that."

How about the box of open raw chicken inspectors found sitting on the kitchen floor? The raw chicken improperly stored above raw beef?

Improper handwashing involving raw chicken. Raw chicken thawing in standing water. And raw chicken being chopped over open boxes of cabbage.

"They already got everything fixed and it was mainly with the temperatures because the stove wasn't working properly," Sampallo said.

That's her story and she's sticking to it. 

And though she agrees to take us back to the kitchen to see how they've cleaned things up, we barely get started before we get stopped by a mall cop.

As we try to explain what we're doing, he abruptly walks away.

Our one imminent health hazard closure came at Cafe el Mundo Cubano on Sahara Avenue near Jones Boulevard. It's a Dirty Dining repeat offender we first featured last summer. 

This time, the restaurant was shut down for lack of adequate refrigeration. As a result, they had to throw out a ton of unsafe food.

Sansei Japan and Cafe el Mundo Cubano are now both back to zero-demerit A grades.