State closes popular Waialua bakery for food safety violations

State closes popular Waialua bakery for food safety violations
Published: Oct. 7, 2015 at 6:07 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 7, 2015 at 10:04 PM HST
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The red "closed" placard met customers visiting Paalaa Kai bakery Wednesday.
The red "closed" placard met customers visiting Paalaa Kai bakery Wednesday.

WAIALUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state health department issued its first red placard to a bakery in Waialua. Health Department officials say of the nearly 10,000 food establishments statewide -- the closure of Paalaa Kai Bakery is the first since their food safety placard program rolled out last year.

The North Shore bakery was issued a yellow placard at the end of July, but a follow-up inspection October 6 revealed refrigeration problems weren't fixed.

A sign at Paalaa Kai Bakery says, 'Closed until further notice' after Health department officials temporarily suspended the store's permit to operate.

"It's shocking from the standpoint that this firm was given a lot of chances in terms of follow up inspections to commit to compliance and for some reason they were not able to, so we were forced to give them the red card," explained Peter Oshiro, the Director of Vector Control for the state health department.

One by one folks turned around -- some didn't even get out of the car -- upon finding out the popular bakery was no longer open.

"It's sad. They were really kind people and there was really good food -- really good pastries, really good bakery," said Chris Canoneo, who lives in Waipahu but stopped for a cream puff every time he was on the North Shore.

Paalaa Kai Mini Mart next door isn't associated with the bakery, and employees hope that distinction will be clear.

"I'm kinda concerned it could be bad for business. It's nice that you get customers that go here and then come to our store afterward and now a little disappointing too that they closed and didn't pass inspection," said Alex Burroughs, who works at the mini mart.

Health Department officials say the bakery was given five chances to address temperature requirements that are in place to prevent bacteria growth that can cause food borne illness.

"Food storage for perishable items have to be below 41 degrees. When we did the final follow up on October 6 -- numerous items like cold cuts, cream filled pastries, cocoa puffs, custard pies -- were all above 50 degrees, so they weren't even in the ballpark," Oshiro said.

According to the Health Department, the state conducted a food safety class for the owner and employees last week, but no changes were made.

"I think they were really passionate about their food and I felt they were passionate about the quality, but I guess they got to clean up a little bit and reopen. I know everybody in the neighborhood hopes they open back up soon," said Ron Artis, II who stopped at the bakery regularly.

Health department officials say the red placard will stay up until the bakery corrects the food safety violations. When they're ready, owners can then request a health inspection to reinstate their permit.

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